What are Michael Oher’s protective instincts? How did these protective instincts shape how Michael Oher played football?
Michael Oher struggled in school and on aptitude tests— except for one. But for Michael Oher, protective instincts were part of what made him such a special football player.
Read more about Michael Oher, protective instincts, and what it means.
Michael Oher: Protective Instincts Helped Him Excel on the Field
Michael Oher struggled with aptitude tests, except for one. For Michael Oher, protective instincts was where he excelled. Unfortunately, figuring out Michael Oher’s protective instincts wasn’t easy.
By the time Christmas rolled around, Michael had become accustomed to the good life. Most of the time, he accepted invitations to visit schools simply so he could ride on the private jet around the country. In fact, when he learned he had to fly on a commercial airline for an official visit to North Carolina State, he almost didn’t go. The only reason he went was that Sean thought it would look suspicious for him to skip an official visit.
To Leigh Anne, Michael’s flippant attitude regarding other people’s time was just another indication of how much Michael didn’t understand the world, which only reinforced her desire for him to attend school close to home. His grades had improved thanks to Sue’s help, but grades were not what counted in Leigh Anne’s eyes. Michael wasn’t stupid, and she already knew that, but he was uninformed in the ways of the world. And this ignorance made him vulnerable. She had no idea how he would cope away from her guidance, so she did everything she could to school him in life to prepare him.
She educated him in the things that young people naturally pick up when living as part of an upper-class society. She taught him about shopping for himself and anyone special he might want to spoil with gifts. She explained the rules of golf and exposed him to fine art. She took him to restaurants and ordered everything on the menu just so he could see what the different dishes were and tasted like. He learned the differences between all of the Italian dishes and discovered that chicken alfredo was his favorite.
These lessons weren’t just about regular life but about the life she and her family lived. Michael was part of her family, so he needed to understand what it meant to live in affluent society. She taught him how to live in a white world, and Michael absorbed all of it and was becoming spoiled as a result. He drove a black SUV and had no problem walking into one of Sean’s restaurants and requesting special attention as the owner’s son.
As Michael grew more into a Tuohy, Leigh Anne grew more relaxed. She started to feel like her work was accomplished and that Michael would be OK. However, this peace was shattered shortly after it arrived when Michael got into a car accident with Sean Jr. in the car. But this was also where they learned about Michael Oher’s protective instincts. It was winter, and the roads were icy. He couldn’t stop at an intersection and slid head first into an oncoming van going 25 mph. When Leigh Anne got to the scene, she found Michael overcome with emotion and Sean Jr. lying on the ground with an unrecognizable face.
At the hospital, the doctors were surprised Sean Jr. wasn’t seriously injured. His face was bruised and swollen, but no bones had been broken. For a 10-year-old boy sitting in the front seat, the airbag should have caused more damage. Leigh Anne went home and told Michael the good and perplexing news, and that’s when he showed her his arm. He’d stopped the airbag with his arm, cushioning the impact on Sean Jr. and burning his arm in the process. This came as no surprise for the boy who scored below the 10th percentile in middle school on every aptitude test except for one. For “protective instincts,” he’d scored in the 90th percentile. For Michael Oher, protective instincts helped define his identity and his success at sports.
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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