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I Beat the Odds: From Homelessness, to The Blind Side, and Beyond

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The football star made famous in the hit film (and book) The Blind Side reflects on how far he has come from the circumstances of his youth. Michael Oher shares his personal account of his story, in this inspirational New York Times bestseller.   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 to break out of the cycle of poverty, addiction, and hopelessness that trapped his family. Eventually he grasped onto football as his ticket out and worked hard to make his dream into a reality. With his adoptive family, the Touhys, 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.

288 pages, Paperback

First published December 21, 2010

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Michael Oher

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 635 reviews
Profile Image for jv poore.
612 reviews204 followers
November 27, 2022
I got this for 'my' students.

During my first visit this school year, I noticed that, like me, many students enjoyed THE BLIND SIDE by Michael Lewis. (And yes, many more loved the movie.) It seemed only logical that we'd all enjoy hearing Mr. Oher's story, straight from Mr. Oher.

I BEAT THE ODDS was so very much more than I expected. I adore Mr. Oher's voice and his incredibly objective outlook. He manages to separate social workers from the bogged-down Child Protective Services and share how he saw the lady assigned to his family: then and now. I'm not sure I've heard anything as pure as Mr. Oher's retelling of catching up with her, as a grown man.

And there's football, sports fans!

This is one of those gems that I wish I could give to every single child in the Foster Care System and each one of 'my' students. I'll definitely donate more than one copy to my favorite classroom library and I'm going to tell 'my' students that it is "Remarkably Read-able!"
Profile Image for Gina.
175 reviews11 followers
February 18, 2011
I read Michael Lewis' novel "The Blindside: Evolution of a Game a few weeks ago and while I loved the story of Michael Oher the intricate sports/strategy portion of the book left me bored and wanting more about the life of Michael Oher. Now that I have read Michael Oher's personal account I can safely say that THIS is what The Blindside should have been. Michael Lewis's account painted Michael as a dumb teenager that everyone had to poke and prod and help along to get him into the NFL. That couldn't be further from the truth.

Michaels Oher's personal biography is refreshingly honest, mesmerizing and inspirational. It paints the portrait of a teenager that was determined to make something of his life and not follow in the bad decisions of his mother.

The most amazing part of this book is the fact that Michael doesn't say "Yes, I made it, I fulfilled my dreams", end of story but continutally reaches out to children that may be reading it as a personal coach if you will, to make them live up to their potential and growing their personal talent.

Mr. Oher deserves to be commended.
Profile Image for Vannessa Anderson.
Author 1 book170 followers
April 18, 2018
… most of our parents weren’t very active in teaching us right from wrong.

When you’re a poor kid from the inner city, most people already have their minds made up about who you are and what you can or cannot do. Every time you slip up, lash out, slack off, or sulk, you’re just playing into their hands by acting like the stereotype they’ve already decided you are. Too many people have already labeled you as a bad kid in their minds, and if you curse or pout or act up, you’re just letting them think that’s all there is to you―that you’re just one-dimensional, that what they see on the surface is all there is to us!

It was a big struggle for me to learn how to trust, and as I’ve gotten older and read more about it, that seems to be a pretty common problem for kids from challenging backgrounds. In my case, it seemed like just about everyone in my life who was suppose to take care of me had failed me. My birth parents failed me; some of my foster families failed me; the broken system at Child Protective Service had failed me; the judges who kept sending me back to bad situations failed me. Because of that, it was tough to think anyone could have good motives.

Tony escaped the mind-set that affected many people around us. He was self-sufficient and knew he didn’t have to stay in the projects just because he was born there.

I really learned a lot about the mentality of some foster children especially when they ran away from decent foster homes back to their abusers but these children don’t consider their parents abusers, they think of them as parents they love who are unable to care for them like Michael Oher’s biological mom who was a drug addicted with twelve children and all but two with different daddies who couldn’t take care of herself never mind twelve children. On the other hand, our States’ governments has made all of us voters/taxpayers people who neglect/abuse children when these children are placed in abusive foster homes, allowed to age out of the system with empty pockets, no work skills and no place safe to live making them homeless.

Though I know there are foster parents who truly wanted to make a difference to children whose parents set them up for failure rather than set them up for opportunity and success and there are those foster parents who could be no different from the parent they were taken from, placed with these foster parents who saw taking in these children as a means-to-an-end meaning they were working a job and collecting a paycheck and neither the system nor we voters/taxpayer did nothing/anything to see that these children were/are protected.

It was distressing learning how dangerous some of the white social workers could be to these kids because they hadn’t a clue about what made them tick.

I Beat The Odds was a great read and left me proud of Michael Oher. Instead of running from his history he ran towards it, grasp what he’d learned by the balls and embraced the good and the bad. He was extraordinary on what made him different from a lot of male Americans who are Descendants of Freed Slaves who run from their history, denies it while all the time trying to be white, something they will never accomplish or giving up because they lack the education to know there is help out there if they learn how to access it.

Michael Oher was unlike many of the kids who had to rely on the system for survival in that he was able to recognize that he needed help and happened to position himself in the right places so he could receive the help he needed.

Michael Oher painted a picture that will remain in my mind for a long while about the vulnerability of poor kids, abused kids and foster kids.

Michael Oher knew he could have a life beyond his current situation and he persevered until he achieved his goal.

I’ve never struggled with the question of whether I could succeed; I only struggled with how. I was going to find a way, some way or another. I wasn’t sure of the exact path, but I knew I wasn’t going to give up until I’d achieved a better life for myself.

I enjoyed learning the truth about how The Blind Side the movie misrepresented your life.

Thank you Michael Oher for telling us how the movie maker had to first misrepresent you to make money before giving us a glimpse into what your life was like.

The movie portrayed you as dumb while you were on the honor roll.

The movie portrayed you as being unknowledgeable about football while you knew more about football than most coaches and players while you were a teenager.

A lot of people want to know what it’s like to be a celebrity and I feel bad when the most honest answer I can give them is “I don’t know,” …. I try not to get into the “celebrity” mind-set because then it becomes easy to think you can shut off just because you’re a big name. It also means you’ve forgotten where you come from and the hard work and discipline that got you to this level of success. The minute you start to think that your reputation is enough to carry you is the moment that you start to slip.

Michael Oher, I salute you for BEATING THE ODDS.
Profile Image for Jake.
2 reviews
March 8, 2016
Michael Oher is a special person, his father left him with his mother when he was young. His mother was a drug addict. One night when his mother came home from the bar she would abuse Michael and his brothers, but that night the police showed up at their house and took Michael and his brothers away from his mother. When the kids were separated each one when to a different foster home. Every night Michael would sneak out a find his way back and go take care of his mother. Then the cops would show up at the house and take him away.
10 years later Michael had made some new friends his best friend Steven and his family helped Michael with food and shelter. Michael went to a lot of different schools, because he would not do any work. One day Michael was walking out of school and this kid named Sj Tuohy walked up to Michael and introduced himself. On Michaels way home he gets stopped by Sj's parents and they ask him if he wants to spend the night at their house. A time passed and then the Tuohys wanted to adopt Michael. The helped him through many problems such as school work. Michael tried out for the school's football team. One day during practice Michael wanted to quit because of the coach not helping him. He over came that and became a great football player.
These is the quote that he said that made him over come what his coach said. "Don't ever allow yourself to fell trapped by you choices. Take a look at yourself You are unique person created for a specific purpose. Your gifts matter,your story matters, your dreams matter, and you matter-Michael Oher". This quote means a lot to me because it shows that don't care about what other people say you are perfect in your own way. Thats why I give this book 5-5 stars.
May 12, 2017
"I beat the odds" is about Michael Oher and how he went from living in the hood, and very poor, to an NFL star. Michael was raised by his mother and siblings into a a bad area. His mother was addicted to drugs. She would occasionally go to rehab and come back and still be addicted. Michael kept getting taken into foster care, but would escape and return home. He attended school sometimes, just to get the free lunch and to play sports. He loved to play basketball and football. One day when he was in high school, he was "taken in" by a very nice family. They started to take care of him. A few years later they adopted him and helped him get into the collage of his dreams. He went to Ole Miss and played on their football team. Now Michael is playing for the Baltimore Ravens. Without the help and support of the Tuohys, Michael would never be where he is today.
I really liked how the book was very specific with everything. Sometimes there would be whole paragraphs talking about how him and his friends would go out and find a field, or court, and play games all day. Another thing i liked was how we go to see what Michael was like in collage. In the book, and movie, "the Blind Side", you don't really get to see what Ole Miss was like for Michael.
I didn't like, how sometimes, he was too over descriptive about things. Some thing he would say a lot about, but sometimes it just felt like he was caring on about it. There is a lot about his childhood and not much about his after his childhood.
All in all, I, personally, liked this book. I really like the the way it was written. It was an easy to read book. I would recommend this book to anyone who loved The Blind Side.
Profile Image for Naomi.
4,683 reviews140 followers
February 18, 2011
In the days of sleezy NFL players like Michael Vick, Ben Rothlisberger, T.O., Tank Johnson and the list goes on, Michael Oher is a breath of fresh air. His book tells the story behind the movie THE BLINDSIDE while Michael was part of the DFS system. The message is extremely positive and excellent studies are noted to give the foster care system a face. In my opinion, there is also a very positive role model message which states don't let your status in life be an excuse for making poor choices. It is really refreshing to see a young man be a positive role model for our advantaged and disadvantaged youth of today, instead of some of the morons, yes I mean you, Michael V. and "Big Ben", being shoved down our throats as supposed role models. Hopefully, the media will be able to latch onto this, but alas, I don't put alot of faith in them to have the intelligence to be able to do so.

One last note on this...If you read this book, I consider it to really be part of a trilogy. The first book would be The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, which is a must read. 5 stars from me! The second is In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving, which is a give or take...and then Michael's book. For those of you who are as enthralled with the movie The Blindside, once you read the entire story, as disappointing as the realization is, little is taken from the true story, which is pretty heart-warming.
2 reviews
January 14, 2013
If you were to see a homeless kid at least six five and weighs at least 300, walking down the street wearing the same clothing he does everyday, would you have the courage to pick him up and bring him into your own house? Well, that's exactly what Leigh Anne Tuohy did in the novel The Blind Side by Michael Lewis. This book is a true story about a teenager that went from nothing to the being a professional football player all because of one person. You may have seen the movie The Blind Side and think that the book will be the same thing, but its not. The book goes into much more detail and its more personal than the movie. For example in the book it shows how rare a player like Michael is in high school. He is compared to some of the best football players ever. One college coach drove nine hours and when he saw one play from him all he had to say was, “ I seen all I need,” and drove the nine hours back.
This book was amazing. I started reading it looking to read a book mostly about football and got a whole lot more out of it. This book could appeal to all sorts of readers not only sports fans. It seemed to also reach out to me at a personal level and was just an amazing story. Just to imagine that this kid grew up on the streets and didn't get involved with any gangs and drugs is miraculous, but then to make it to the NFL because one family opened up their house to him is truly incredible.
Profile Image for Jess the Shelf-Declared Bibliophile.
2,029 reviews587 followers
December 21, 2014
3.5 stars. I really enjoyed this memoir. Honest, upfront, and informative. I was disappointed to learn the inaccuracies of The Blind Side, though I can still, like Michael Oher, appreciate the movie strictly as a movie.
Profile Image for Jenny.
313 reviews17 followers
June 13, 2011
Unless you just completely don't keep up with pop culture in any way (which there's nothing wrong with), you've likely heard of the movie, The Blind Side, based on Michael Lewis's book, The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game. Sandra Bullock won/was nominated for a variety of awards for best actress for her role in the movie. In brief, in case you aren't aware, The Blind Side, is the story of Michael Oher who went from being homeless to being adopted by the Tuohy family and ultimately overcoming his difficult past by finishing high school and college and being drafted into the NFL by the Baltimore Ravens. While I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, as did mostly everyone I know who saw it, I felt as though the movie focused largely on the Tuohy family and their taking Oher in. I wanted to know more about Oher and his thoughts on everything portrayed in The Blind Side, be it his thoughts on the situation in real life or his thoughts on how the movie portrayed him.

Though written in a slightly amateurish, conversational tone that is at times repetitive, I Beat the Odds did provide the additional insight into Oher's life that I was seeking. He gave more detail about his life growing up, what it was like moving from house to house, being raised by a mother who was addicted to drugs, and being tracked down constantly by the Department of Children's Services (DCS). As a former case worker for Florida's Department of Children and Families (DCF), I did find Oher's childhood perception of DCS to be interesting. Of course, as an adult he realizes that his case worker was trying to help, but as a child he thought of his case worker as someone his family had to run from. I don't know if I've read anything yet that gave me the insight into growing up in foster homes as this book did. I was able to emphasize with Oher's feelings of being unloved in these homes despite being treated well. There really is something to be said about that feeling of belonging that all people, but especially children, need. He also provided some sad truths about the down side of some foster homes.

In a way, this book wasn't directed towards readers in general but more towards foster children or those who specifically look up to Oher. This did slightly take away from the reading experience, but at the same time, I respect Oher's purpose. He has apparently received lots of mail from children who are in the situation he used to be (some of which he quotes in the book). He appears to have written this book as inspiration for them. He wants other children in similar situations to feel encouraged to aspire for more than they are often relegated and to overcome the somber statistics for children in foster care. He also makes it a point to describe throughout how much effort he put into his success and the attitude he had to maintain. He provides tips for overcoming the difficult situations such as finding a mentor, carefully choosing friends, etc. I have a high amount of respect for Oher for being able to decide what he wanted in life and doing what was necessary to achieve it. Some of the things he did, such as only maintaining friendships with those who had positive influences, was a great depiction of his character.

There was a small part where I worried he would lead others to believe that they, too, could become professional athletes. Even though he worked very hard to get there, there still has to be the understanding that there was a great mixture of talent and luck that got him where he is. Not every child who is athletically talented will make it nearly as far as he did. But after a while I changed my mind about him saying this specifically. And what I appreciated was that even though he excelled in sports, he emphasized the critical need for academic success in addition to his athletics. He worked vigorously at improving his academics, especially since, as a child, it was fairly optional for him to go to school. He never had anyone teach him the importance of education, so this was something he had to learn for himself and then try to catch up with others his age. I get that memoirs are often self-serving, but I do believe these things about the efforts he put into these parts of his life.

On an interesting side note, Oher mentions in the book that one of the parts of the movie that weren't true to life were the parts where the Tuohy's taught him about football and how to play. He describes how he spent his whole life observing and studying athletes so he could imitate their skills. I'm not sure why they changed this in the movie, but I did feel bad for him for that because I can imagine, considering how big a deal sports play in his life, to be depicted as someone who had to learn these concepts from his adopted family must have been frustrating and possibly embarrassing. This also fits into my thoughts that the movie focused on the great deed of the Tuohy family rather than on the actual life of Oher. (That's not to say I didn't really enjoy the movie or respect the family though!)

In all this was a short, but interesting read and one that would be great to pass on to those younger people in our lives!

Taken from my blog at www.takemeawayreading.com
2 reviews
June 4, 2014
This book is about a man named Michael Oher and how he developed into the NFL player he is today. First off, he had a really troubled childhood he had nine siblings and a mom ( and his mom would be there half the time because she abused drugs). So most of the time Michael and his family were moving from one friends house to another because his mom would be gone and she would come back a week or two later. He always had a difficult time in school, he never turned in his homework and would not even show up most of the time. One day the foster care agency came and took michael and his brother, the rest of his siblings stayed with his mom or went to another foster home. After Michael stayed in the foster home he became a better person because the lady there make him do chores and go to school and she would help him with his homework. He was always the big kid whenever he played sports and in high school his coach was surprised how good he was and then he got him into football. So he became the best linemen on the team and after high school he kept getting calls from major head coaches to join their college team. After all of the calls he got he picked the college his foster parents went to and that was ole miss. He was also really good in college and after that he entered the NFL draft. He was a first round pick by the Baltimore Ravens, and everyone was so excited for him because of what he overcame throughout his life. Now he is playing for the Indianapolis Colts and getting payed millions with his foster parents right by his side.
“ People like to talk about “ Cinderella Stories”, but cinderella didnt get her happy ending without lifting a finger” (Oher 107)
This quote is saying that cinderella really didn't do much to get her happy ending, but Michael did he overcame so much to get where he is today and it is just amazing because the chance of him making it to the NFL was slim to none.

“ Don't ever allow yourself to feel trapped by your choices” (Oher 134).
This quote is saying to not limit yourself to what other people say you can and can't do, and its saying look at yourself you're the one that knows what you can and cannot do so you have to go above and beyond to reach your goals.
Profile Image for Jennie.
158 reviews
May 13, 2012
Anyone who has read The Blind Side or watched the film should also read this book. Since Michael Oher's story has been told in those other two formats, he basically presents his life story thus far in a summarized form. What is interesting is how the addition of Michael Oher's own perspective fleshes out both versions of The Blind Side. Oher's own views about poverty, social skills, education, interpersonal relationships, government assistance programs and life in the ghetto not only made me consider how those things have impacted my own life and those around me, but also how one teacher, one government worker, or one act of kindness can make a difference in the life of a young person. I sense that Oher wrote the book to clarify things he felt were perhaps given too much dramatic license in the film, or not explained thoroughly in the book.
I found the book easy to read and engaging. I also applaud Michael Oher's decision to tell the story from his own unique perspective. I began this book suspecting an "easy paycheck" book that cashed in on the success of the movie and book versions of The Blind Side. I came away pleasantly surprised, and with a better understanding of the complete story. I hope Michael Oher will write another book covering subsequent chapters of his life in professional football.
Profile Image for Karlye.
5 reviews
February 21, 2014
I laughed, I cried, I cried some more. I worked in childcare for a couple of years and saw several kids in foster homes and all of them were usually not as happy go lucky as the kids from normal families. They also were more likely to have behavior issues and were often not as developed due to neglect. It absolutely broke my heart to see these kids suffer from not having a stable family. While there are several foster families that are amazing, a lot of the kids are bounced from home to home and never had a chance to prosper in a home. Michael oher really brought attention to the fact that so many kids out there need a good home and parents to really care for them and to show them what a loving home is. His book really helped me to see the importance of what foster and adoptive families play! I read this because I hope one day to adopt out of the foster care system and he gives insight on how to truly help them. He also tells the true story behind his adoption with his new family which the blind side slightly changed up. He really went through hell and back and came out of it a truly amazing person!
24 reviews
March 25, 2011
I recommend this book to anyone who wants to read about an American Dream Come True. Michael Oher truly exemplifies what it means to be a decent, hardworking American. I am not a huge fan of sports, and I never saw The Blind Side; however, I am a teacher and after reading this book I realized how valuable the American Public School System is to its youth. For many children, school offers opportunities otherwise not available to them in their lives. I am so impressed by Michael Oher's incredible determination to "beat the odds" and to use all elements of the schools he attended to better his life. He offers wonderful advice to younger readers who are in difficult situations and wise advice to adult readers who work with youth. This book is definitely one that should be read by anyone involved in working with young people. It is a gentle reminder that our students are more than just statistics on a Standardized Testing Score Sheet, they are humans with souls and dreams. Great job, Michael Oher! God bless you! :)
Profile Image for Jane.
380 reviews
May 3, 2012
I did not see the movie "The Blind Side," but was somewhat familiar with its premise. Mr. Oher felt he had to write this book in order to accurately explain his life, and to clear up some misconceptions about him. The strong message which he conveyed is that, despite his profound gratitude to the family who took him in, he always had the drive to succeed, to not follow the crowd, and make his own way. He felt the film portrayed him as a good deal less intelligent than he is in order to make the film more compelling.

This is told in an authentic voice, with the author's disappointment in his birth mother mentioned from time to time. Because he is a noble soul, he is able to still love her while vowing never to be like her.

I was struck by the depth of Mr. Oher, how he carefully studied his circumstances and chose a path that led out of the ghetto. So many loving friends and families let him into their homes along the way, and I am delighted that he found his true family at last.
Profile Image for Dana Michael.
1,156 reviews93 followers
February 18, 2020
Oh my goodness! This book is such a great story about how Michael Oher overcame such utter poverty and being homeless to a professional NFL player. This book is about determination, mentoring and hard work. It is also about fostering and helping others to make a better life and how anyone can make a difference in their own life and in the lives of others. This book isnt a re telling of The Blind Side, this is more about Michael's own story and his life before he met the Tuouy family. I really enjoyed it and highly recommend it.
Profile Image for C Baker.
61 reviews3 followers
July 14, 2022
Michael Oher has had so many other people tell his story that he must have felt he finally had to tell his own story in his own words.

Michael Oher may be the most well known offensive lineman in the history of the National Football League after the movie, The Blind Side, based on the best selling book of the same name by Michael Lewis. The Blind Side tells of an inner city Memphis kid who grew up virtually homeless but rose to become the first round pick of the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League.

Anyone who read or saw The Blind Side knows the basics of Oher’s story. He grew up in drug infested neighborhoods in Memphis with an indifferent mother addicted to crack cocaine, who often left her many kids to fend for themselves and was at times homeless.

Oher grew up often not knowing where his next meal was coming from or even where he would sleep. In an out of foster care, sometimes homeless, always destitute in if not the basics, direction and care, his character and work ethic, along with a lot of help from some very generous people, eventually landed him at a private school in well to do part of Memphis.

The amazing aspect of Oher’s success beyond people like the Tuohy family who took him into their home and made him part of their family, is his work ethic and perseverance through severe disadvantages.
Yes, Oher got lucky that there were enough people to help him along the way achieve his dreams. But it takes more than being huge and athletic to take those opportunities and turn them into success.

While there are many, many, better off, less disadvantaged athletes that never graduate from college or achieve any level true success in professional sports, Oher graduated and had had success as a pro. Regardless of talent and background, that takes a lot of hard work. And despite the unbelievable disadvantages, Oher took the opportunities in front of him and made a success of his life.

In this book Michael talks about his life growing up, his love for his siblings and his adopted family, the Tuohys, but he also has a message. And that message is to those in similar circumstances not to give up, work hard, and take the opportunities afford and make the best of them. While not all kids in Oher’s situation will be quite as lucky, and probably not have quite the perseverance, Oher’s success creates a model and gives hope to others.

And another amazing thing about Oher is how self aware he is. He notes that the life of a professional football player is short, so he doesn’t live lavishly and plans to save and have a plan for the future. He understands that he doesn’t know everything about football and the professional game and understands he has to continue to learn and improve. It’s a rather refreshing perspective.

This book is readable, interesting, and while it will not really tell much that is not basically known about Oher’s life and success, it is his message of hope and perseverance that makes it a worthwhile read.
9 reviews
March 7, 2021
I Beat the Odds: From Homelessness, to the Blind Side, and Beyond is an amazing autobiography by Michael Oher. This novel dives deeply into Oher’s experiences within the foster care system and to show kids, teens, and even adults what it takes to make it out of a continuous cycle of poverty within their families. Although I am fortunate to be in a stable financial situation, I believe that Oher did a great job in reaching this audience of impoverished individuals who feel as though they will have no way out of their predicament or no goals that will carry them further toward success in their life journey. Oher’s purpose in writing this book is to inform and encourage those who are struggling financially what worked for him and what made his journey to the NFL possible.

Michael Oher argues that the two most important things that helped him become successful was having active and positive role models in his life, as well as dreaming big and setting goals. First, Oher focuses greatly on how important it is to have a positive role models and multiple mentors to help guide you positively. Oher looks back on his life as a child and felt that he had to fend for himself and learn right from wrong because he had no father figure to teach him these things in his life. Oher also describes that without role models, mentors, and discipline, many of those in poverty can lose hope and it is shown that they have a higher rate of becoming involved in crime, drug use, and poverty as an adult; this leads to a similar cycle for their children also. Oher does a great job supporting this argument by showing examples like the Tuohy's, his football coach, and even some of his friends that were headed down the path he wanted to go down as well. The other argument he makes is how individuals need to dream big and set out specific goals to accomplish in order to succeed. Oher states that without these goals, it's as though you are just drifting aimlessly through life and don’t have a plan set out for your future. He backs this up by showing that making a goal at a very young age that he was going to use the gift that God had given him: athleticism. By making this goal, he explains that he had a specific dream that he would work hard to achieve until it came true.

Overall, I think that Oher does a great job supporting his claims and shows his success in reaching impoverished individuals through the many letters he received from his story and how it inspired each of them. Overall, I felt that this book really drew me in and was engaging in its writing. I thought that this autobiography could give many individuals teachings and encouragement to keep working hard and not to give up on their dreams. I really enjoyed reading this autobiography and would definitely recommend reading this book even if you aren’t a part of the audience Oher is trying to deeply reach.
Profile Image for Holly (2 Kids and Tired).
1,037 reviews9 followers
March 26, 2011
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.
March 9, 2016
Last summer, I went to a football camp sponsored by The Boys and Girls Club. My coach, Coach Mike, asked me if I liked to read. I told him no, I’m not really into reading so he challenged me to read a book. He then gave me the book, I Beat the Odds, by my favorite football player, Michael Oher.

Michael Oher went through a lot of obstacles before making it to the NFL. Growing up in Memphis’s inner-city, Michael Oher had no relationship with his father and his mother was a jobless drug addict. Finding a place to stay for Michael and his 12 brothers and sisters was hard. Most of the time they had to sleep under bridges and vacant cars. Michael and his siblings didn’t attend school on a regular basis and if they did it was because they knew that was guaranteed a free meal.

With the help of people around him, Michael gets an opportunity to go to a private school so he can stay away from his neighborhood. Sean Tuohy, Michael’s private school basketball coach, welcomed him into his house. Sean and his wife eventually adopt Michael. In order for Michael to go Division 1 and pursue his dream, he had to get his GPA up which Sean made sure he was tutored daily. He ended up going to University of Mississippi. Throughout college he was a 4 year starter winning multiple awards. He ended up pursuing his goal when he got the call from the Baltimore Ravens, Oher was the 23rd overall pick in 2009.

After reading this book I called up Coach Mike and thanked him because this book was an eye opener. I would recommend it to anyone because it shows that in life it’s easy to give up at any giving moment. Instead of adapting to the “hood” Michael wanted a change and improve his life. Today’s best multi-millionaire offensive lineman used to live under bridges and eat out of the garbage in Memphis’s most dangerous neighborhood. The book showed me a little bit of help can really set the tone in some people's lives nowadays. Not everyone has a great start and needs that little push that Michael was given.
3 reviews
October 18, 2013
My reflection of the book that Michael Oher wrote was very inspiring to me because he came from nothing and showed us that people in the ghetto can actually make something of themselves. They can work hard and hang out with the right people and make the right decisions that will help you succeed in life today. Michael however, mourned about how he always wanted to see his mother because the people of the foster care would never let him see her because she wasn’t able to keep children because of circumstances. I shouldn’t say they never let him see her. They let him see her on occasion and Michael would be so happy and thankful to see her again. Michael also tells us that making the right decisions can make you successful in life. He showed us that he hung with the right people. I mean he did not hang out with the people that did drugs or miss school just to hang out with their friends. Michael at times struggled with school and needed a tutor to help him. He changed schools many times to find the right one for him. Michael had a hard time with this but the tutor helped him through the way. Miss Sue was the tutor of Michael and she helped him all the way from middle school to college. Michael and Miss Sue had a loving passion toward one another. This showed me that people actually do care about people who wanted to succeed because they want to make themselves out of something and be successful in the real world we live in today. Lastly, he shows us that playing sports can be tough because he said that having a lot of money means that you can spend it on something you have always wanted. This is not good because if you spend all of your money on something, you can lose it in an instant. Michael is now one of the people I look up to because he had started from nothing, coming from a very poor place in Memphis, to being a professional football player, for the Baltimore Ravens.
3 reviews
October 18, 2013
I Beat the Odds is a very good book and tells a lot about his life. The book tells some of his life experiences from being locked out of the house for days because his mother did not want her kids to see her using drugs, to running away from the social workers and trying to escape foster homes, and all sorts of things like that. There were a few parts of the book that I really got into. When I started reading the book I kind of expected some things at the beginning like saying how he lived in bad neighborhoods where crime was prone to happen. Then the sentence that really got me paying attention to detail in this book said that he attended five different schools before the second grade. I thought that was crazy when I first read it, but then I realized that he was moving from neighborhood to neighborhood, from school district to school district. Another big thing that I noticed was when he went to public school for his first year of high school he would skip classes all the time. He just really didn’t care that much about it. There was one class that he never missed, ever. Even if he did not even arrive at school to go to class on that day he would always show up for one class, lunch. He always showed up for lunch because it was a free lunch program and one hot meal every day of the school week. And in the second to last chapter, I would say it was the best chapter even though it was very long and pretty tough to read, said that he didn’t want to see anyone have an early life like he did. He did not like how he skipped school all the time. He did not like most of the decisions that he made when he was a kid and he does not want any of us to make the decisions that he made. I thank him for that.
40 reviews2 followers
August 13, 2012
I LOVED the movie The Blind Side. Did you?

I thought I would eventually get around to reading 'The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game' by Michael Lewis but it never happened. So when I came across this book I picked it up.

I like Michael Oher.

Maybe I'm wrong but looking at his pictures and the things he has to say - there's something really sweet about him and you get a sense that he's truly NICE.

But I suspect a big chunk of the book was pieced together through the research efforts of the "contributor", Don Yaeger. So you don't (or at least *I* didn't) get a sense of this book being a memoir per se (although I guess it is).

Still, I enjoyed reading about "what happened before" along with the misconceptions people have about Michael from the movie - such as how he's somewhat slow and didn't know how to play football (not true). I also think Michael wanted to point out that it wasn't JUST "one pivotal moment" that changed his life (although it makes for a better movie) but all the other small little pushes and help he got along the way...that added up to the point when the Touhys took him in.

I read this because I was interested in a different aspect of the Blind Side story. But I'm not sure I was the intended audience.

It was written, I think, for kids in situations like Michael experienced - poverty, homelessness, foster care - and how to persevere and find a different way to live and lift themselves out of the ghetto, as well as advice on how to handle things once you do. And for the adults interested in helping such kids - there are several pages of resources and volunteer opportunities at the end.

8 reviews
March 1, 2013
The story in this book is an incredible one to read about. The movie is not completely accurate in its description of his life (haha not suprised) but the book told about his struggles in life and how he came to fame. I personally am not a big football fan but this story intrigues me. Micheal Oher who this story is about had a tough early life. His parents were never there for him because his mom was a drug addict and she would never pay attention to him and his dad was always getting in trouble with the law so he would be in jail all the time. But he struggled through school where he began taking an interest in football. Now he didnt need to learn how to play football he already knew, because in the movie they depict him as not knowing how to play football and that he had to learn when in reality he already knew. A family took him in and enrolled him to the school where he continued to fail in his academics but he thrived in sports which included basketball and football. By the time he graduated he brought up his grades so that he could go play in a college of his choice. And from there on it was still a struggle but he kept at it and continued to do better in school and in sports as well and the rest of the story is basically what we all know it to be. He was drafted to the NFL Baltimore Ravens after his college years of football and like the title reads he beat the odds and even went on to a recent Super Bowl victory. Which just makes this story even more amazing to read
Profile Image for Gerald Kinro.
Author 2 books4 followers
December 9, 2012
We have heard of “The Blind Side.” I Beat the Odds,” tells the story in the author’s own words. Michael Oher was born with odds stacked against him: a dysfunctional family, poverty, a mother who constantly made bad choices such as drugs, and more poverty. He grew up as a street kid in Memphis, often not knowing where his next bed and meal would come from. Social workers did their best with the resources they had. His luck turned when he enrolled in a private school. From there he met the Touhys who became his foster and then his real family. They provided him nurturing, discipline, and most important, love. Then came the football scholarship to the University of Mississippi and then a contract with the Baltimore Ravens of the NFL.
The story raises the question of just how do we deal with such a problem Oher faced at the beginning of his life? He is one of the lucky ones, born with athletic talent, intelligence, and happened to stumble onto a family of means that was willing to take him in.

This is a very readable book. At times it dragged on, but, to Oher’s credit, he manages to swing back on track. I like his attitude throughout his life, especially after he reaches success. Unlike many who achieve stardom but revert back to “old ways”, he seems to have moved on but without forgetting where he came from and still has great love for his biological siblings.
Profile Image for Ellen.
279 reviews
February 17, 2011
I am reading this on my Sony Ereader. Downloaded from the library. I need to get back to the story.

I finished the book this morning. Yeah!
I Beat the Odds is a well written book. Michael tells about his life before he met up with the Tuohy's. He tells his story without portraying himself and his life as poor, poor pitiful me. He is honest, straightforward and forthcoming. He tells about his homelife, his siblings, his mother. Of course, it is different than the movie The Blind Side as Michael mentions frequently. Michael is a smart person he just never had any consistency in his schooling for extended periods of time. He tells his story with the hope of inspiring other children in similar situations to help themselves by having a plan on how to get out of the ghetto, making sure the people you hang with are good supportive people. He also tells his story with the hope if inspiring people to help in anyway they can children that need a home, a caring family and structure.

I really recommend this book. It was a great read, not very long and gives a more rounded picture of the life of Michael Oher. I would also recommend reading The Blind Side. Both are very good books.
Profile Image for Kirsti.
2,518 reviews100 followers
February 12, 2013
It must be hard for a shy, modest person to write a memoir, but Michael Oher does a good job of it. He describes his wretched childhood, his adoption into a wealthy family, and his athletic success in high school, at Ole Miss, and in the NFL.

He seems even prouder of his academic successes than his athletic ones; one of his few quibbles about The Blind Side movie is that the filmmakers portrayed him as a slow learner rather than someone who had almost no schooling until he was a teenager. (Although he's a movie fan, he didn't go to either of the movie's glitzy premieres because he didn't want to miss any football games. He eventually saw it a couple of months after its initial release, paying for his ticket just like everybody else. It confused him that audience members were crying, because he considers his story to be a happy one overall.)

Oher seems pretty clear-eyed about his career with the Ravens, too: "I got my position because someone else lost his; that's the way the game works."

June 18, 2014
I beat the odds is the inspirational true story about Michael Oher, a boy growing up in a tough Memphis ghetto, and becoming a starting left tackle for the Tennessee Titans. But life wasn't always good for Michael, growing up his mom who was a drug addict and would leave him and his siblings alone for days. Michael didn't really know his Dad, the same as his other siblings since most had different fathers. Michael found out his way out of the ghetto was basketball, where he got into a high school to play basketball. From there Michael discovered his talents for football, which caught the eyes of some college coaches. He then went on to play for the Ole Miss Rebels and win many SEC awards, before being drafted 23rd overall in the 2009 NFL draft by the Baltimore Ravens. Michael went on to win a super bowl with the Ravens, in 2013. Michael's book has already inspired many kids living in a tough situation, to show them there is a good way, out of a tough situation.
Profile Image for Margie.
644 reviews37 followers
February 28, 2012
I'm listing this on my Sports shelf (among others), but it's really more about the foster care system, and how Oher beat the odds against him.

The statistics about kids in the system are dismal. Girls are six times more likely than their counterparts to give birth before age 21. Almost 50% of foster kids will become homeless after aging out. A significant percentage never finish high school.

I Beat the Odds describes not only how Oher beat the odds, but also why. He goes into great detail about his mindset; it's a fascinating window into the thoughts and emotions of a kid dealing with the system.

Oher comes across as extremely compassionate and self-aware. God bless him.
7 reviews1 follower
April 10, 2011
Well, I downloaded this book after 10pm Saturday and today at 11:31 am (Sunday) I have devoured it if that says anything! I was an easy, quick read, well written, insightful and expressive. The book covers Michael Oher's side of things and while I wasn't sure what to expect, as many of these types of celebrity tell-all books end-up being poorly written and somewhat loose in their craft, this story comes off as honest, compelling and inspiring. Read it cover to cover and loved it.The story has a good rhythm, clear voice and is an unapologetic account of how he was determined to make something of himself, what his life was like before the time period depicted in The Blind Side.

No tissues required! Pure inspiration and highly recommended.
Profile Image for Brian Eshleman.
830 reviews103 followers
January 16, 2012
I was looking for one more football book, one that details what life in the trenches of the NFL is like. In that limited sense, I was disappointed. The author does not add much of a texture to my knowledge of football. Nevertheless, he has given me a much greater perspective on what life in the foster system is like for a child and young man. As a prospective foster parent, I appreciated understanding all that someone in this situation has to overcome in order to learn that what they have undergone so far is not "normal" and that someone from outside of the world they are accustomed to can love them simply for themselves. I was also reminded to admire and stir the initiative of such a child rather than look at them as acted upon by my magnanimity or that of other benefactors.
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