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I BEAT THE ODDS by Michael Oher


From Homelessness to The Blind Side and Beyond

by Michael Oher with Don Yaeger

Pub Date: Feb. 8th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-592-40612-8
Publisher: Gotham Books

Hulking NFL tackle and subject of the film The Blind Side (2009) blends practical advice with autobiography in this intimate ghetto-survival guide.

With the help of former Sports Illustrated associate editor Yeager (co-author, with John Wooden: A Game Plan for Life: The Power of Mentoring, 2009, etc.), Oher tells his often-compelling Horatio Alger story sans the entertainment-industry embellishment of the Hollywood version of his life in The Blind Side, first a book by Michael Lewis, then a popular movie. Oher’s young life was shaped by an intense love for sports, especially basketball and football, but also profoundly affected by the netherworld of the ghettoes in Memphis. The author writes about having to cope with an absentee father and an undependable, crack-smoking mother, and about his time bouncing around the foster-care system and supporting himself through petty theft. Eventually, he made decent money selling newspapers on street corners. His major first steps out of the ghetto came in high school, when, despite early trouble with academics, Oher was accepted to the reputable private school Briarcrest. However, his intermittent homelessness didn’t officially end until local Good Samaritan Leigh Ann Tuohy offered him the closest thing to a permanent residence he’d ever had. Tuohy’s guardianship served as a launching pad for Oher’s successful high-school athletic career, which led to a scholarship with the University of Mississippi and to an eventual first-round draft pick of the Baltimore Ravens. The book is strongest when Oher conveys his hard-won wisdom through specific examples and anecdotes from his life. When he dispenses more generalized advice, the narrative reads like a generic public-service announcement.

Often preachy, but Oher scores points with good intentions and an unrelentingly positive message.