The Blind Side

Michael Oher Character Analysis

Michael Oher is the protagonist of The Blind Side, and a real-life NFL star, who’s played offensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens, the Tennessee Titans, and the Carolina Panthers. Growing up in inner-city Memphis, Michael was extremely poor, and his mother, Denise, was a crack addict who barely took care of him. The Blind Side begins when Michael is a sad, lonely teenager, but with the help of his de facto guardian, Big Tony, Michael enrolls in Briarcrest Christian Academy, where he attracts the attention of the wealthy Tuohy family. With the Tuohys’ support and encouragement, Michael becomes one of the most talented high school football players in Tennessee, if not America, leading his team to statewide victory in his senior. In addition to studying Michael’s rise to prominence in the world of football, The Blind Side is the story of Michael’s coming of age. When he first meets the Tuohys, he is shy, quiet, and isolated. Though he continues to face racism and feel like an outsider throughout the book, Michael does gradually learn to fit in with his adopted family, to do well enough in school to go to college, and to form friendships and loving relationships with other people.

Michael Oher Quotes in The Blind Side

The The Blind Side quotes below are all either spoken by Michael Oher or refer to Michael Oher. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Generosity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the W. W. Norton & Company edition of The Blind Side published in 2007.
Chapter 3 Quotes

His name was Michael Oher, but everyone just called him “Big Mike.” Tony liked Big Mike, but he also could see that Big Mike was heading at warp speed toward a bad end. He’d just finished the ninth grade at a public school, but Tony very much doubted he’d be returning for the tenth. He seldom attended classes, and showed no talent or interest in school. “Big Mike was going to drop out,” said Big Tony. “And if he dropped out, he’d be like all his friends who dropped out: dead, in jail, or on the street selling drugs, just waiting to be dead or in jail.”

Related Characters: Tony Henderson / Big Tony (speaker), Michael Oher
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:

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But Mr. Simpson was new to the school, and this great football coach, Hugh Freeze, had phoned Simpson’s boss, the school president, a football fan, and made his pitch: This wasn’t a thing you did for the Briarcrest football team, Freeze had said, this was a thing you did because it was right! Briarcrest was this kid’s last chance! The president in turn had phoned Simpson and told him that if he felt right with it, he could admit the boy.

Related Characters: Michael Oher, Steve Simpson, Hugh Freeze
Page Number: 54
Explanation and Analysis:

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By the time [Sean] met Big Mike, he had a new unofficial title: Life Guidance counselor to whatever black athlete stumbled into the Briarcrest Christian School. The black kids reminded him, in a funny way, of himself.

Sean knew what it meant to be the poor kid in a private school, because he’d been one himself.

Related Characters: Michael Oher, Sean Tuohy
Page Number: 62
Explanation and Analysis:

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By the time Michael Oher arrived at Briarcrest, Leigh Anne Tuohy didn’t see anything odd or even awkward in taking him in hand. This boy was new; he had no clothes; he had no warm place to stay over Thanksgiving Break. For Lord’s sake, he was walking to school in the snow in shorts, when school was out of session, on the off-chance he could get into the gym and keep warm. Of course she took him out and bought him some clothes. It struck others as perhaps a bit aggressively philanthropic; for Leigh Anne, clothing a child was just what you did if you had the resources. She had done this sort of thing before, and would do it again. “God gives people money to see how you’re going to handle it,” she said. And she intended to prove she knew how to handle it.

Related Characters: Leigh Anne Tuohy (speaker), Michael Oher
Page Number: 68
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 4 Quotes

They called him names that neither he nor his coach cared to repeat. Harrington wasn’t shocked by more subtle forms of racism away from the basketball court, but it had been a long time since he’d seen the overt version on it. “I don't think there’s a white coach with a black kid on his team, or a black coach with a white kid, who could have any racism in him,” he said. Big Mike responded badly; Harrington hadn’t seen this side of him. He began to throw elbows. Then he stopped on the court, turned on the fans, and gave them the finger.

Related Characters: Michael Oher, John Harrington
Page Number: 85
Explanation and Analysis:

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One afternoon the Briarcrest players and coaches looked up and saw the strange sight of Tennessee’s most famous coach, Phil Fulmer, from the University of Tennessee, not walking but running to their practice. If ever there was a body not designed to move at speed it was Fulmer’s.

Related Characters: Michael Oher, Phil Fulmer
Page Number: 96
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 6 Quotes

From his place on the sideline Sean watched in amazement. Hugh had called a running play around the right end, away from Michael’s side. Michael’s job was simply to take the kid who had been jabbering at him and wall him off. Just keep him away from the ball carrier. Instead, he’d fired off the line of scrimmage and gotten fit. Once he had his hands inside the Munford player’s shoulder pads, he lifted him off the ground. It was a perfectly legal block, with unusual consequences. He drove the Munford player straight down the field for 15 yards, then took a hard left, toward the Munford sidelines.

Related Characters: Michael Oher, Sean Tuohy, Hugh Freeze
Page Number: 135
Explanation and Analysis:

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She’d been taking care of his material needs for a good year and a half, and his emotional ones, to the extent he wanted them taken care of, for almost as long. “I love him as if I birthed him,” she said. About the hundredth time someone asked her how she handled his sexual urges, Leigh Anne snapped. “You just need to mind your own business. You worry about your life and I’ll worry about mine,” she’d said. Word must have gotten around because after that no one asked.

Related Characters: Leigh Anne Tuohy (speaker), Michael Oher
Page Number: 146
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 7 Quotes

With that, Sean Junior took off on a surprisingly insistent rap. He explained how important it was for him to be near Michael, and how concerned he was that once Michael committed himself to some big-time college football program, he’d become totally inaccessible. Then came the question: if Michael Oher agreed to play football for Ole Miss, what level of access would be granted to his little brother?

“How about we get you an all-access pass?” said the Ole Miss recruiter.

“That'd be good.”

Related Characters: Sean Tuohy Junior (speaker), Michael Oher
Page Number: 174
Explanation and Analysis:

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Leigh Anne Tuohy was trying to do for one boy what economists had been trying to do, with little success, for less developed countries for the last fifty years. Kick him out of one growth path and onto another. Jump-start him. She had already satisfied his most basic needs: food, clothing, shelter, transportation, and health care. He had pouted for three days after she had taken him to get the vaccines he should have had as a child. It was amazing he hadn’t already died some nineteenth-century death from, say, the mumps. (When she tried to get him a flu shot the second year in a row, he said, “You white people are obsessed with that flu shot. You don’t need one every year.”) Now she was moving on to what she interpreted as his cultural deficiencies.

Related Characters: Michael Oher (speaker), Leigh Anne Tuohy
Page Number: 176
Explanation and Analysis:

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Leigh Anne listened to the doctors discuss how bizarrely lucky Sean Junior had been in his collision with the airbag. Then she went back home and relayed the conversation to Michael, who held out his arm. An ugly burn mark ran right down the fearsome length of it. “I stopped it,” he said.

Related Characters: Michael Oher (speaker), Leigh Anne Tuohy, Sean Tuohy Junior
Page Number: 180
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 10 Quotes

Michael beat Antonio around the face and threw him across the room as, around the room, huge football players took cover beneath small desks. That's when a lot of people at once began to scream hysterically and Michael noticed the little white boy on the floor, in a pool of blood. He hadn't seen the little white boy—the three-year-old son of one of the tutors. Who had put the little white boy there? When he’d charged Antonio, the boy somehow had been hit and thrown up against the wall. His head was now bleeding badly. Seeing the body lying in his own blood, Michael ran.

Related Characters: Michael Oher, Antonio Turner
Page Number: 290
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 11 Quotes

As [Denise] had no income except for whatever the government sent her on the first of each month, the children had no money for provisions. They had no food or clothing, except what they could scrounge from churches and the street. Surprisingly often, given the abundance of public housing in Memphis, they had no shelter. When asked what he recalls of his first six years, Michael said, “Going for days having to drink water to get full. Going to other people’s houses and asking for something to eat. Sleeping outside. The mosquitoes.”

Related Characters: Michael Oher (speaker), Denise Oher
Page Number: 296
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 12 Quotes

And, after a long round of fulsome apologies and ten hours of community service, Michael was restored to his former status of model citizen—and the incident never even hit the campus newspaper. It just went away, the way it would have gone away for some well-to-do white kid. Of course, lessons were learned and points of view exchanged. Coach O, for instance, pulled Michael into his office to discuss The Responsibilities of Being Michael Oher. Rather dramatically, Coach O extracted from his desk a thick folder stuffed with newspaper clippings, and dropped it with a thud. “Dajus da crap dey wrotebout me last sittee days!” he boomed. (That’s just the crap they wrote about me in the last sixty days!) He went on to lecture Michael on the burdens of conspicuous success. “Let me tell you something, son,” he concluded (in translation). “It is lonely at the top.”

Related Characters: Ed Orgeron (speaker), Michael Oher
Page Number: 316
Explanation and Analysis:

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Michael Oher Character Timeline in The Blind Side

The timeline below shows where the character Michael Oher appears in The Blind Side. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2: The Market for Football Players
Left Tackle, Protection, and Shifting Strategy Theme Icon
Football Industry and Culture Theme Icon
...from aspiring players who want to impress him. The latest tape he’s received is from Michael Oher, who plays for a small private school, Briarcrest, which has no real history of... (full context)
Left Tackle, Protection, and Shifting Strategy Theme Icon
Football Industry and Culture Theme Icon
...walks into the football meeting room at the University of Memphis, and waits to meet Michael Oher—meanwhile, “the ghost of Lawrence Taylor” is waiting. Taylor’s legendary performances in the NFL in... (full context)
Left Tackle, Protection, and Shifting Strategy Theme Icon
Football Industry and Culture Theme Icon
Racism and Outsiderness Theme Icon
...to protect quarterbacks; thus, left tackles commanded high salaries, too. But Lemming wants to meet Michael Oher in person, because he knows that sometimes videotapes can be deceptive. Furthermore, he recognizes... (full context)
Left Tackle, Protection, and Shifting Strategy Theme Icon
Football Industry and Culture Theme Icon
Racism and Outsiderness Theme Icon
When he first meets Michael Oher at the University of Memphis, Lemming realizes that Michael is so big he can... (full context)
Chapter 3: Crossing the Line
Generosity Theme Icon
Racism and Outsiderness Theme Icon
Big Tony and Steven lived in a house in west Memphis, where a boy named Michael Oher, nicknamed Big Mike, would sometimes crash. Michael had just finished ninth grade, and Tony... (full context)
Football Industry and Culture Theme Icon
Racism and Outsiderness Theme Icon
...through school if financial aid doesn’t cover it. Big Tony introduces Freeze to Steven and Michael, and suggests that they might be able to play on the football team. Freeze is... (full context)
Generosity Theme Icon
Football Industry and Culture Theme Icon
Racism and Outsiderness Theme Icon
A few days later, Big Tony delivers Steven and Michael’s transcripts to Briarcrest. Steven is a great student, and he’s accepted on scholarship without further... (full context)
Racism and Outsiderness Theme Icon
Two months later, Simpson gets a call from Big Tony. Michael, Tony explains, has been trying to study for the home study program, without success. Now,... (full context)
Generosity Theme Icon
Racism and Outsiderness Theme Icon
Michael Oher enrolls in Briarcrest’s special needs program. The teacher, a woman named Jennifer Graves, is... (full context)
Generosity Theme Icon
Racism and Outsiderness Theme Icon
Within a few weeks, several teachers have recommended that Michael leave Briarcrest—he’s clearly not ready for classes. Even in his weightlifting class, he declines to... (full context)
Generosity Theme Icon
Racism and Outsiderness Theme Icon
After school, Michael Oher sits in the stands and watches basketball practice. The basketball coach, Sean Tuohy, notices... (full context)
Generosity Theme Icon
Racism and Outsiderness Theme Icon
One day, during practice, Sean asks Michael Oher what he ate for lunch that day, and asks him if he needs money;... (full context)
Generosity Theme Icon
Racism and Outsiderness Theme Icon
The next day, Leigh Anne picks up Michael from school and takes him to buy a jacket. She’s a remarkable woman, not least... (full context)
Generosity Theme Icon
Racism and Outsiderness Theme Icon
In the store, Leigh Anne quickly realizes that almost nothing fits Michael—he’s too big and tall. As Leigh Anne tries to convince Michael to choose some clothes,... (full context)
Generosity Theme Icon
Racism and Outsiderness Theme Icon
The next day, Leigh Anne devises a way to clothe Michael—get hand-me-downs from NFL athletes—only to learn that nobody in the NFL is as big as... (full context)
Chapter 4: The Blank Slate
Left Tackle, Protection, and Shifting Strategy Theme Icon
Racism and Outsiderness Theme Icon
Hugh Freeze can still remember the moment when he realized that Michael Oher wasn’t just big, but also fast: Michael picks up a fifty-pound tackling dummy and... (full context)
Left Tackle, Protection, and Shifting Strategy Theme Icon
Racism and Outsiderness Theme Icon
In his first semester, Michael makes straight D’s, though he’s also working with special tutors so that he’ll be able... (full context)
Left Tackle, Protection, and Shifting Strategy Theme Icon
In early 2003, as a junior, Michael plays defensive tackle in football games. At first, he’s good but not extraordinary—his biggest talent... (full context)
Racism and Outsiderness Theme Icon
In spite of his difficulties on the field, Michael Oher is adjusting to his new life, thanks largely to the help of Sean and... (full context)
Left Tackle, Protection, and Shifting Strategy Theme Icon
Football Industry and Culture Theme Icon
Racism and Outsiderness Theme Icon
A turning point for Michael comes in the winter of 2003. Michael and the rest of the Briarcrest basketball team... (full context)
Generosity Theme Icon
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...have parents to meet them at the airport. Big Tony’s girlfriend comes to pick up Michael, but Michael refuses to go with her—he tells Coach Harrington that she’d called him a... (full context)
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For the next few months, Michael stays with various teammates’ families. One night, after a track meet, Leigh Anne drives Michael,... (full context)
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Michael Oher sleeps on a futon in the Tuohys’ house (he’s so big he barely fits... (full context)
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Early on in his time living with the Tuohys, Michael is a hoarder. He’s had to survive from day to day for so long that... (full context)
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Sean begins writing letters to Division II coaches, imagining that Michael Oher could play basketball in college. Then, Freeze gets word that a football scout, Tom... (full context)
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Meanwhile, Michael Oher begins playing more football for Briarcrest. His coaches, Hugh Freeze and Tim Long (a... (full context)
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The coaches proceed with some drills. First up is Michael Oher on the board drill—i.e., the drill that involves trying to stay on a board... (full context)
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Michael Oher continues dominating practices, but he remains a mystery. One day, he falls to his... (full context)
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Meanwhile, it’s becoming clear to Michael’s coaches that Michael might have a real future in professional football. Michael isn’t just big—he’s... (full context)
Chapter 5: Death of a Lineman
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The reason Michael Oher was so interesting to college football coaches was that he fit the idea of... (full context)
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...of the quarterback and the “pass game,” Lewis says, was critical to the success of Michael Oher. (full context)
Chapter 6: Inventing Michael
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The year is 2004, the Briarcrest Saints football team is beginning its season, and Michael Oher has spent four months adjusting to the idea that he’s a football star. He’s... (full context)
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While college football coaches fall over themselves to court Michael, Leigh Anne and Sean have doubts about Michael’s football future. Michael is dependent on Leigh... (full context)
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At school, Collins Tuohy, Leigh Anne and Sean’s daughter, notices that Michael is becoming more outgoing—he no longer looks at the floor all the time, and seems... (full context)
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To obtain proof of address, Michael calls his mother in advance, and Leigh Anne drives him to the house where she... (full context)
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While Leigh Anne waits for Michael to take his test, she thinks about the flak she’s gotten from her friends about... (full context)
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Leigh Anne also thinks about Michael’s bad grades: he has a GPA of 1.56, but needs a GPA of 2.65 to... (full context)
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...local high school, and loses. After the game, Leigh Anne encourages Hugh Freeze to play Michael more often, and run the ball left instead of right, since Michael is the number... (full context)
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...Freeze decides to take Long’s advice and run Gap, again and again, making use of Michael. During the game, Briarcrest players score touchdown after touchdown, largely thanks to Michael’s talent. Searles... (full context)
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Even though Michael is critical to his team’s success, he’s oddly underappreciated. Even Hugh Freeze doesn’t realize that... (full context)
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...game between Briarcrest and its rival, Evangelical Christian School (ECS), ECS’s goal is to tackle Michael. The strategy works, and ECS wins. Later in the season, Freeze compensates by stacking the... (full context)
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...championships. In the first game, against Harding Academy, the Harding defensive end tries to tackle Michael, but Michael figures out how to keep the defensive end from tackling his knees, and... (full context)
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...a fullback, and then pretends to be running with the ball. Strangely, during the play, Michael doesn’t move. Later in the game, Michael faces off against a fullback, 165 pounds, named... (full context)
Chapter 7: The Pasta Coach
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At the end of 2004, Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy become Michael Oher’s legal guardians. They send out a Christmas card including Michael, and it never occurs... (full context)
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As Michael nears the end of high school, he faces great offers from college coaches. Privately, Sean... (full context)
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At the same time that Michael is considering his options for college, he is being tutored by a woman named Sue... (full context)
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Meanwhile, local news stations hang on Michael’s every word for a hint about where he’ll play ball. Michael receives so many calls... (full context)
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Leigh Anne is nervous that, if accepted to an elite football college, Michael won’t be able to cope with the pressure, or with being so far from the... (full context)
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...day, Leigh Anne gets a call from Collins—there’s been an accident. Leigh Anne learns that Michael, while driving Sean Junior out to play basketball, hit another car. She finds Michael in... (full context)
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Shortly after the accident, coaches from three different colleges—LSU, Tennessee, and Mississippi—come to visit Michael in his home. The first coach is Nick Saban, from LSU—a school that Michael considers... (full context)
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...visit and comes to the Tuohy home a few days later—at the exact time when Michael is scheduled to visit Ole Miss. But Fulmer’s bus gets delayed, and he begs the... (full context)
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Later, Fulmer manages to visit Michael at Briarcrest. Fulmer is supposed to be giving a talk at the Tennessee high school... (full context)
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Sean Tuohy, worried that Michael has decided to play for the University of Tennessee, is sorely tempted to intervene in... (full context)
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...Mississippi gets a new head coach, Ed Orgeron. Ed’s first order of business is convincing Michael to play for his college. Orgeron, a “hearty Cajun coach” with a thick accent, visits... (full context)
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On February 1, 2005, Michael Oher holds a press conference about where he’ll go to college. Before a sea of... (full context)
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After the press conference, Michael and Sean Junior play miniature baseball. In Sean Junior’s room, there is a framed bloody... (full context)
Chapter 8: Character Courses
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On March 30, 2005, the NCAA begins a formal investigation into the career of Michael Oher. The investigation is painful for the Tuohys, because of what it implies about their... (full context)
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Thompson asks Michael how he came to live with the Tuohys. He explains that Sean Tuohy understood his... (full context)
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Thompson proceeds with her questioning, and Michael explains that he lived in multiple foster homes as a child; he doesn’t provide many... (full context)
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Michael spends his final semester of high school trying to raise his GPA to a 2.65.... (full context)
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For the rest of the year, Michael enrolls in a program of correspondence courses designed for the learning disabled. He works closely... (full context)
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A month after her first interview, Joyce Thompson returns from the NCAA to talk to Michael again. In a way, Thompson’s job is to investigate the black market surrounding college athletes.... (full context)
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...and stresses that, whatever the NCAA might think, Ole Miss isn’t bribing him to pressure Michael—clearly, he’s too wealthy to be bought. Thompson begins to open up to Sean after this... (full context)
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As Michael approaches the end of high school, he has to find a baby picture—which, traditionally, is... (full context)
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On July 29, Sean sends the results of Michael’s correspondence courses to the NCAA, and shortly afterwards, the NCAA tells Michael that he’ll be... (full context)
Chapter 10: The Egg Bowl
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...by Ole Miss largely because of his rapport with black athletes. Orgeron is interested in Michael from an athletic perspective, but also from a public relations perspective, since Michael lives with... (full context)
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...one occasion that he wants to build his new football team on the back of Michael Oher. He wants Michael to start for Ole Miss, even though he’s just a freshman.... (full context)
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...season, when the players are preparing for their game the next day. By this point, Michael Oher has acquired a swagger—he’s been featured in Sports Illustrated. Coach Orgeron tries to energize... (full context)
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In the past year, Michael has adjusted to his new life in the University of Mississippi. He’s learned that Ole... (full context)
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...hard work. He asks the team to give him just one game of good offense. Michael nods—all season long, he’s been playing right guard. Some of the time, Michael doesn’t know... (full context)
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...can maximize the players potential. The players grow increasingly disorganized and unsure, and DeLeone radios Michael to try harder. But even if Michael’s performance in the game—and during his entire freshman... (full context)
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The day after their loss to Mississippi State, Coach Orgeron moves Michael Oher to play left tackle. Orgeron also uses Michael’s prestige to recruit other great players... (full context)
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In spite of his new success, Michael Oher continues to feel lonely and insecure about his family. He goes to visit Denise,... (full context)
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One day, toward the end of freshman year, Michael clashes with a freshman linebacker named Antonio Turner. Antonio boasts that he’d like to have... (full context)
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...Anne tells Sean what’s happened. Sean is reminded of an incident that happened shortly after Michael left for Ole Miss: Michael had an argument with Sue Mitchell, and left for two... (full context)
Chapter 11: Freak of Nurture
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The chapter begins with an interview about Michael Oher between Joyce Thompson and Sean Tuohy. Thompson asks Sean if he knows much about... (full context)
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When Michael Oher’s mother, Denise, was a young girl, her father was murdered. Her mother was an... (full context)
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...his wife told him she wanted a divorce. In jail, Robert met a man named Michael Jerome Williams; later on, Williams, newly freed, served as a messenger, sending Denise letters from... (full context)
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Michael Oher and his brothers lived in squalor: every month, the government would send Denise a... (full context)
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Even as a young child, Michael Oher wanted to be a basketball star. He’d seen basketball games on TV, and wanted... (full context)
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When he was ten, Michael ran away from Velma Jones; this time, the police took him to a floor of... (full context)
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Michael didn’t have many close emotional relationships in Hurt Village. One exception was a boy named... (full context)
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Around the time that Zachary Bright was turning down his football scholarships, Michael Oher had acquired the nickname “Big Mike.” Michael hated his nickname—his still wanted to be... (full context)
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Shortly after Michael attended the basketball camp, Big Tony’s mother died, and made Tony promise to enroll his... (full context)
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In Michael Oher’s earliest weeks at Briarcrest, he was treated as a “freak of nature.” The other... (full context)
Chapter 12: And Moses Stuttered
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Back in the 2000s, Michael Oher has fled from Ole Miss, and “all hell broke loose.” Antonio Turner, the teammate... (full context)
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Michael Oher drives around Oxford, angry and confused. Recently, the NCAA has been saying that the... (full context)
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...hurt needs stitches, but is otherwise fine. However, the police are still going to arrest Michael Oher. Sean decides that it’s time to call a lawyer. He talks to his old... (full context)
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After hitting Antonio Turner, Michael Oher does some mild community service, but is never prosecuted. He settles into success. Meanwhile,... (full context)
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Even after Michael chooses the University of Mississippi, Phil Fulmer remains obsessed with him. He tries to convince... (full context)
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Leigh Anne continues to spend lots of time with Michael Oher. It often occurs to her that there must be other people just as talented... (full context)
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Due to his success, Michael Oher gets lots of calls from poor friends, many of whom want money. Denise calls... (full context)
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...as the successor to Lawrence Taylor. In 2006, Feeney hears of a talented kid named Michael Oher, who claims that Feeney is no match for him. Feeney later learns that Michael... (full context)