The Blind Side Family: The Tuohys and Michael Oher

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 is in The Blind Side family? How did the Tuohys help Michael Oher?

The Blind Side family is the Tuohys, consisting of parents Sean and Leigh Anne and kids Collins and Sean Jr. Michael Oher went to school with the Tuohy children, and later became a part of their family.

Keep reading to find out more about The Blind Side family.

The Tuohys: The Blind Side 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. This was the beginning of The Blind Side family and Michael Oher’s relationship.

Sean was very familiar with the black students at Briarcrest. Many of them ran track with Collins, 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. 

Not having lunch at school was something Sean was familiar with. Sean grew up poor in New Orleans and had attended a private school where his father coached basketball. He received a full-ride scholarship to Ole Miss and was later drafted into the NBA. But his basketball career ended shortly after, and with his college sweetheart, Leigh Anne, he moved back to Memphis and became a self-made man. He owned 85 chain restaurants and a private jet. He was a born-again Christian and started one of the most popular evangelical churches in Memphis. He was also the voice of the Memphis Grizzlies. 

Sean was a man of action and was interested in helping others achieve their potential. He often helped the basketball coaches at Briarcrest as a consultant, which was why he was there the day he met Michael. He recognized that Michael always wore the same clothes—cutoff jeans and a large t-shirt—and figured he probably didn’t have money for lunch. After offering Michael money for food and being turned down, he put money in Michael’s school account to pay for lunch for the rest of the year. 

Shortly after this first encounter, Sean and Leigh Anne saw Michael getting off a bus on Thanksgiving day wearing the same old clothes. It was freezing out, and they pulled over to ask him what he was doing. Micheal was headed to the school gymnasium to see if he could get in and stay warm. When the Tuohys drove off, Leigh Anne was crying. The Blind Side family didn’t want to give up on Michael.

The Lord’s Work

A prominent part of The Blind Side family was the mother, Leigh Anne. Leigh Anne was born and raised in Memphis and was part of the first Briarcrest graduating class. She owned an interior decorating business and often did philanthropic work. When she decided to help Michael the next day, she saw it simply as God’s work. She and her family had plenty of money, and it was their duty to God to use it well. 

Helping a young black kid was not what Leigh Anne was raised to do. Her father was a strict racist who taught her to fear black people. But after meeting Sean, she saw how accepting he was and followed suit. She was known for having a big heart and a tough-as-nails personality. When she set her mind to something, there was nothing that could stop her from succeeding. And that Thanksgiving day, Leigh Anne set her mind to helping Michael.

Leigh Anne picked Michael up from school not long after the Thanksgiving encounter. She asked him about his life, but he was silent, like always. She looked at Michael with compassion and said they could do it the easy way or the hard way, but she was going to learn about his home life one way or another. Michael finally opened up and told her he hadn’t seen his father or sisters in years and didn’t know where they were. His grandmother was dead, and his mother was, from what Leigh Anne could surmise, an alcoholic. Leigh Anne wanted to keep digging into Michael’s past, but she was satisfied for now. 

Leigh Anne didn’t want to make Michael feel bad or awkward by taking him to high-end stores like Ralph Lauren or Brooks Brothers, so she asked him where he wanted to go. He told her there was a store for big and tall men in his neighborhood, but he thought it was too dangerous for her to go. She said she wasn’t worried. She knew he’d take care of her. 

After a day of shopping and finding only a few items that would fit him, including a striped rugby shirt, Leigh Anne drove him home to the west side. When she tried to get out to help with the bags, he told her to stay inside the car and lock the doors. 

Something about Michael stayed with Leigh Anne after that experience. She saw that he was kind, sweet, and gentle, and she’d felt safe with him around. She wanted to do more and asked a high-profile NFL client to help gather some clothes from his teammates for Michael. Both were surprised when the client, a Redskins’ quarterback, said no one on the team was as big as Michael. They were dumbfounded and wondered who this kid was.

The Blind Side family believed they could help Michael, and they became his family, too. But the journey wasn’t over.

The Blind Side Family: The Tuohys and Michael Oher

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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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