NBC Bay Area
January 30, 2012
By Linda Vongkhamchanh
The world was introduced to NFL player Michael Oher when his life was depicted in the 2009 Academy Award winning film The Blind Side (based on the book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game). His story captivated audiences, and actress Sandra Bullock even won an Oscar for her role as Oher’s adoptive parent in the blockbuster hit. Today, the Baltimore Raven is releasing a book of his own, a memoir called “I Beat the Odds,” sharing his story, but this time, from his perspective. Michael sits down and talks to us about the part of his life story that we haven’t yet seen and shares his Super Bowl prediction.
We know a lot about you from the Blind Side, but what will we learn about you from your book? What would you want people to know about you that we might not have necessarily known from watching the movie or reading Michael Lewis’ book?
One of the main things I wanted people to know about my book was that I wasn’t dumb—and neither are a lot of other kids who struggle in school. But for plenty of kids, our home lives are so messed up that we don’t have anyone showing us the importance of applying ourselves in school or helping us with assignments we don’t understand, so we just get lost in the shuffle and labeled as “dumb.” What those kids really need is someone who can teach them how to learn, how to study, how to complete an assignment or reason through multiple-choice answers on a test. A lot of times, it’s just taken for granted that kids have those skills when they really don’t. Once I learned how to study, it was like the whole world opened up for me in terms of realizing what I could do.
Was there a specific moment that prompted you to decide to write your own memoir?
There wasn’t one specific incident so much as just a sort of gradual realization that there was more to the story that needed to be told. The letters I was getting from kids coming from backgrounds like mine or families that had taken in kids like me made me realize the need for someone to really step up and be a voice for kids in the foster care system and others who are desperate for a better life than the one they’ve been dealt. I just started to see that maybe my voice was important for giving them hope and showing that their dreams are possible.
How did you find the telling of your own story to be while working with writer Don Yaeger? What more did you discover about yourself through this process?
The deeper we got into the project, the more I realized I really had something to say. At first, I was pretty sure I’d run out of words long before page 50. But the more we talked and visited my old neighborhoods and interviewed people, the more I found myself wanting to speak up and share my thoughts. That really surprised me, since I’ve always been pretty shy, so that was kind of a neat discovery.