Michael Oher -- From homeless youth to the NFL draft

Michael Oher spent his youth homeless and bouncing around in foster homes, but now he's headed to the NFL.
When the NFL Draft happens, few of the players standing up on the podium will have had quite a long a journey as Michael Oher.

The University of Mississsippi All-American tackle says his earliest memory is walking along side a road with his brothers at the age of 2, homeless and unsure of where they were going. He spent his youth homeless and bouncing around in foster homes, before a couple took him in at 16.

From USA Today:
Michael attended 11 schools in nine years.If not in a foster home, he lived with friends. He was homeless.

"As I look back on stuff, it's crazy how I got here," he says. "But it didn't seem tough at the time. I just lived day to day, did the best I could."

A turning point came when Tony Henderson, who allowed Michael to crash on his sofa, brought him along when he took his son Steven to enroll at Briarcrest Christian School on the other side of town. Oher ultimately was admitted as a special-needs case.

Another pivotal moment occurred during his first Thanksgiving break, when Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy spotted Oher as they drove past a bus stop near the school. It was snowing. Oher, then 16, was dressed in a T-shirt and shorts.

Sean, then a volunteer assistant basketball coach at the school who had met Oher at the gym, says Leigh Anne grabbed the wheel. Next came a U-turn.

"She cried the second she met him, and it was over," Sean recalls.

The Tuohys took in Oher, allowing him a safety net in their home in upscale East Memphis two blocks from the school. For months he came and went as he pleased, and Leigh Anne worried when he didn't spend the night. They hired a tutor to address severe academic deficiencies, paid his tuition and gave him a wardrobe and other essentials. Sean says the generosity was not the result of any epiphany or even as much as a family meeting.

"We think God sent him to us," Sean says. "Earthly explanations don't make sense."


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A senior associate editor at Zimbio, writing about entertainment and current events.
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