The Blind Side Setting: From Hurt Village to Affluence

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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What is The Blind Side setting? What are the locations where the book takes place?

The Blind Side setting takes place primarily in Memphis, Tennessee. The book has scenes from Michael’s childhood in the West Memphis housing project known as Hurt Village, as well as the affluent neighborhood where the Tuohys lived and where Michael went to school.

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The Blind Side Setting: From the Projects to High Society

The Blind Side setting is primarily in Memphis, though it also takes place in two different worlds.

The first The Blind Side setting is Hurt Village. Micheal Oher lived in the worst housing projects in Memphis, known as Hurt Village. The community was riddled with drugs and gang violence. Michael had been in and out of foster care homes between the ages of 7 and 10. Although his mother, who struggled with alcohol and drug addiction, lived in the village, she was unable to care for him and his siblings. He was often left to his own devices, went hungry, and didn’t attend school. 

As was the norm in many of the public schools in the inner city, Michael was passed up from grade to grade without learning anything. He had a dream of playing in the NBA, but his chances of making it were slim. With his lack of education or resources, the most likely future for Michael was as a member of the local gang. 

But that all changed when he met Big Tony. Big Tony was a basketball and football coach who came back to Hurt Village often to recruit young players. He saw potential in this 15-year-old boy who weighed more than 300 pounds and stood at 6’5”. He could see the path Michael was going down and wanted to help. He took Michael in and let him sleep on his floor. Tony had a son named Steven, and he’d promised his dying mother he would take Steven across town to East Memphis where the wealthy Christian private schools were located to get a proper education. Since Michael was staying with him, he decided to take Michael, too. 

The Blind Side setting changed when Michael began attending Briarcrest, on the other side of Memphis.

Briarcrest Christian School was as far east as you could get and still be in Memphis. There were a handful of black students in the school’s history, but most of them were not Memphis natives and were from upper-class families. Never had a poor black child attended the heralded Christian school, but that was about to change in 2002 when Big Tony walked in.

Stranger still was the school Michael attended. Michael went to Briarcrest Christian School in Memphis, a small private school not known for football or black students. When Lemming called the school to ask for Michael’s contact information, he learned Michael didn’t have a phone number or home address, and no one seemed to be representing this kid. This was odd because top players always had a team of handlers, from parents to coaches to informal agents. Lemming knew the only way he was going to learn about Michael Oher was if he drove to Memphis to meet him.

The Lord’s Work

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. Leigh Anne being a Memphis native makes The Blind Side setting important since she wanted to give back.

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. 

The Blind Side Setting: From Hurt Village to Affluence

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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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