Who was Collins in The Blind Side? How did Collins and Michael Oher meet and what was their relationship like?
Collins in The Blind Side was the daughter of Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy and a classmate of Michael Oher’s at Briarcrest. Collins and Michael became siblings when the Tuohys adopted Michael.
Read more about Collins in The Blind Side.
Collins, The Blind Side, and The Tuohy Family
Michael had hoped to try out for the basketball team when his grades were good enough, and he spent his free time watching the team practice from the gym bleachers. This was where Sean Tuohy first spoke to Michael. He’d heard of him before from his daughter, Collins, who was a student at Briarcrest, and he’d seen him in the hallways several times. But that day, he decided to approach Michael.
Sean was very familiar with the black students at Briarcrest. Many of them ran track with Collins, in The Blind Side and over the years, he’d taken on the role as a sort of life coach and guardian angel for many of them. He’d donated money to the school to be used for scholarships for students who couldn’t afford the tuition and paid for many of the black students to eat lunch daily.
With his growing popularity, Michael started changing. Where once Michael was reserved and afraid of his own shadow, now he was gregarious at school and becoming popular. The more people told him he was special, the more he started to believe it. At home, he was becoming more outspoken, confident, and comfortable asking for things. The first thing he wanted was a driver’s license. Leigh Anne and Collins in The Blind Side were determined to make this happen for him.
Leigh Anne was willing to get Michael a license, but she didn’t have any documentation for him. He had no birth certificate, social security card, or school ID. On paper, Michael Oher didn’t exist. To start the process of making him official, Leigh Anne collected an ID card and documentation from the school to vouch for his existence. But the man at the social security office said he still couldn’t find anyone named Michael Oher in his system. His hands were tied.
But Leigh Anne wasn’t one to take no for an answer, so she explained the situation to the man. She told him about Michael’s life and them taking him in, and it worked. The man continued looking and discovered something strange. Michael Jerome Oher didn’t exist, but Michael Jerome Williams did. Leigh Anne was confused until Michael said that was him. Williams was his father’s name.
Despite the victory at the social security office, Leigh Anne knew it was unlikely the DMV would allow him to take the test without a birth certificate. Michael assured her he didn’t have one. She asked about his mother, and he said he doubted she had one either. This mention of Michael’s mother again brought up Leigh Anne’s frustration with his relationship with her. He said he was visiting his mother, but Leigh Anne had her doubts. She told Michael if he wasn’t going to visit his mother, she would. Her threat did the trick.
When Michael returned from West Memphis, he had a crumpled, soiled piece of paper. They’d found his birth certificate. When Leigh Anne looked at it, she saw that his name was, in fact, Williams and his birthday was two days before he’d said it was. When she asked him about his birthdate, he simply said the hospital had gotten it wrong. Although she knew this was unlikely to be true, she didn’t push the matter and kept his birthday as the day he said it was.
Leigh Anne drove to the outskirts of Memphis with both Collins and Michael to get their driver’s licenses. As she suspected, schmoozing the DMV workers was not easy. He needed proof of residence, which they didn’t have. The only thing that would work would be an official letter with his legal name on it. And the only place to get that was back at his mother’s house.
Leigh Anne and Michael drove all the way to West Memphis, leaving Collins behind to stall for time, to his mother’s house. When they arrived, they found his mother friendly but slurring her words. She tried to hug Michael, but he didn’t return it. Leigh Anne asked about a piece of mail, and the mother directed them to the mailbox. When they opened it, months of bills fell at their feet addressed to Michael. Leigh Anne grabbed the first bill she saw. They raced back to the DMV, neither speaking about what had just happened.
Leigh Anne anxiously waited with Collins while Michael took the test. She’d become used to doing everything either with or for him, and leaving him to his own devices was difficult for her. By now, she felt like his mother. He even called her “mama,” and the family treated him like he’d always been there. She was constantly defending her choice to her extended family and friends, who were not shy about suggesting that she was putting Collins in danger by having a black boy in the house. But Leigh Anne’s love for Michael was so deep, she told them all to shove it.
Finally, Michael appeared with a driver’s license. On the way home, he told her he was the first person in his family to have a driver’s license. That’s why it had been so important to him to get one. It had been a day of revelations about this boy she had learned to love. Despite his new confidence and openness, he was still secretive and didn’t talk much about himself. He still said what he thought would please others, and this problem would rear its head again soon when she received his transcripts.
The Problem With Michael Oher
Michael may have left home for college, but he never truly moved into a new life. His tutor, Sue, followed him to Ole Miss, Collins in The Blind Side was a cheerleader for the football team, Hugh Freeze was still his coach (having moved to Ole Miss from Tennessee after Michael enrolled), and the Tuohys often stayed in their new home only a few blocks from campus. Not much had changed in his life except his location.
Collins in The Blind Side was close with Michael Oher and like the rest of her family, was determined to help him find success.
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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Michael Lewis's "The Blind Side" at Shortform .
Here's what you'll find in our full The Blind Side summary :
- How Michael Oher went from the projects in Memphis to the NFL
- Why the combination of size and speed became essential for football stars
- How Oher was taken in by the wealthy Tuohy family