Michael Oher: Father Dies, Leaving a Mystery

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Blind Side" by Michael Lewis. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Who was Michael Oher’s father? Did he and Michael have a relationship, and what happened to him later in life?

Michael Oher’s father was named Michael Jerome Williams, Sr. Michael was named after his father, who went back to jail soon after he was born, and was later killed.

Read more about Michael Oher’s father.

Michael Oher: Father Is a Mystery

During one of these spring practices, Michael finished a drill and took a knee in the middle of the field. He stayed there for a long time without saying anything. Sean asked him what was wrong and learned that Big Tony had informed Michael that his father was dead. Michael’s father had been murdered three months before after being thrown off an overpass in West Memphis. 

Sean was surprised. He didn’t know that Michael had a father that he was aware of. He asked Michael if he wanted to go home, but Michael said no. Michael was confused about why no one told him sooner, but that was all he said about it. He shoved whatever he was feeling down into the same space where the rest of his past trauma lived. After a few more moments on his knee, Michael stood up and continued practice. 

That night, Leigh Anne tried to help Michael deal with this loss. She reminded him that he didn’t know his father. She said it might be cold to say, but he might be better off. Michael was going to make a lot of money in the future through football, and his dad would likely try to claim rights to it. Michael understood and agreed with her. But he also realized something else that night. He was likely to have a future, something that seemed unthinkable before.

Learning About Oher’s Father

Michael Oher didn’t know his father, but his family was soon able to uncover the secrets of Michael’s past.

When Michael’s mother, Dee Dee, left the orphanage, she fell in with a group of wayward kids. She started doing drugs and drinking, and five years later, she had her first child with a man named Odell Watkins. Over the next six years, she and Odell had four more children, although he was not a father figure or partner to her. At the age of 27, Dee Dee decided to leave Odell. It wasn’t long before another man walked into her life by way of her brother Robert. 

Robert was serving his first prison sentence for murder and made a friend in jail named Michael Jerome Williams. This was Michael Oher’s father. Michael Sr. was getting out of jail, and Robert asked him to visit Dee Dee and give her an update on how he was doing. Dee Dee and Michael came together quickly, and she was pregnant again shortly after. Dee Dee was deep into drugs and had no job or money, but she welcomed her new son, Michael Jerome Williams Jr., into the world happily. 

Michael Oher’s father didn’t stick around long after he was born and ended up back in prison. Dee Dee no longer wanted her child named after that man, so she started referring to him as Michael Oher, her last name.

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. 

Michael Oher’s father met a tragic fate, and Michael had trouble coming to terms with this truth and his identity.

Michael Oher: Father Dies, Leaving a Mystery

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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

Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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