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Saturday, March 26, 2011

I Beat the Odds: From Homelessness to the Blind Side and Beyond...Review

The football star made famous in the hit film The Blind Side reflects on how far he has come from the circumstances of his youth.

Michael Oher is the young man at the center of the true story depicted in The Blind Side movie (and book) that swept up awards and accolades. Though the odds were heavily stacked against him, Michael had a burning desire deep within his soul to break out of the Memphis inner-city ghetto and into a world of opportunity. While many people are now familiar with Oher's amazing journey, this is the first time he shares his account of his story in his own words, revealing his thoughts and feelings with details that only he knows, and offering his point of view on how anyone can achieve a better life.

Looking back on how he went from being a homeless child in Memphis to playing in the NFL, Michael talks about the goals he had for himself in order to break out of the cycle of poverty, addiction, and hopelessness that trapped his family for so long. He recounts poignant stories growing up in the projects and running from child services and foster care over and over again in search of some familiarity. Eventually he grasped onto football as his ticket out of the madness and worked hard to make his dream into a reality. But Oher also knew he would not be successful alone. With his adoptive family, the Tuohys, and other influential people in mind, he describes the absolute necessity of seeking out positive role models and good friends who share the same values to achieve one's dreams.

Sharing untold stories of heartache, determination, courage, and love, I Beat the Odds is an incredibly rousing tale of one young man's quest to achieve the American dream.

I saw The Blind Side and I read the Tuohy's book, In a Heartbeat.  I was thrilled when I saw that Michael was writing his own story.  I love that this is his story, in his words.  He shares his opinion about the film and clarifies some points that were inaccurate.   One thing that bugged him was how the film made him appear dumb, especially when it came to understanding football.  He'd studied and played football for years and knew the sport inside and out before he started playing at Briarcrest.

He talks about how he came to be a part of the Tuohy family, but that is not the reason for writing this book.  Michael's purpose, in addition to separating fact from fiction, is to shine a light on the plight and difficulties that face over 500,000 foster children in America.  He includes many resources at the end of the book for people who want to help foster children.

As Michael shares his experience growing up with a drug-addicted mother and being homeless or hungry, he is honest.  His love for his family is very strong. 

Michael feels strongly that he was on his way out of the ghetto, as he calls it.  He had goals and he was learning about the things that were important in helping him move forward.  He recognized at a very early age that those who worked hard and had goals and a work ethic were the ones who could leave poverty.  He realized at a young age that he had a talent for sports and that sports could be a ticket to college and a future.

He shares experiences and his gratitude for those people, including the Tuohy family, who were willing to help him and guide him, many of whom let him sleep on their sofas.  Michael's tone is very conversational and when he shares the experience about the first time the Tuohy's picked him up, you just want to laugh.  It was Sean driving and in the front seat next to him was a "very tiny, very loud lady". 

I thoroughly enjoyed Michael's story.  It's a fast, easy read and one I can wholeheartedly recommend, especially to those already familiar with his story.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 3/11

* * * *
4/5 Stars


  1. Really enjoyed your review! :o)

    I have also read In a Heartbeat, and have gotten a copy of The Blind Side (book) and will soon have a copy of I Beat the Odds thanks to PBS. Can't wait to read both of them to get the whole story.

  2. Im glad he has written his own story. I found the Blind Side (the book) quite dull and really wanted to know more about Michael. I will certainly have this on my too read list.

  3. I need to read this to get Michael's side of things!