Long before he was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens, first round draft pick Michael Oher already had lived a well known life. Raised in the projects, Oher was shuffled around by his family with his brothers and sisters until he was enrolled in a school with a majority white racial population. The wife of a well known wealthy man, who just happened to be the voice of the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies and a huge University of Mississippi donor took interst in this big, poor black teenager and basically adopted him early on in his high school years.
The rest is pretty much history, as Oher was introduced to the game of football and become one of the most sought after college recruits in the nation, finally landing at his new family's alma mater, the University of Mississippi.
Once at Ole Miss, Oher caught the attention of the NFL scouts, who likened his style of play to not only Orlando Pace, but current Baltimore Ravens (at that time) great Jonathan Ogden. Oher became an All American left tackle and the Baltimore Ravens thought enough of the young man to trade up to grab him with the 23rd pick in the first round of this past April's NFL Draft.
Friday, November 20th is the nationwide opening of the movie on the book written by Michael Lewis (author of 'Moneyball'), after the World Premier was held last night in New York City, which Oher did not attend, partially due to his preparation for the team's upcoming key game against the undefeated Indianapolis Colts. "partially" was the word I used to describe his non-attendance, as when I was at the Ravens Training Camp this summer, I read the book from cover to cover in jut a couple of days, as I found it a fascinating story, regardless that Oher was a Raven. However, when I approached the team about interviewing Michael about the book, I was told that he was not a fan of the book and would not want to talk about it.
Apparently, Oher thinks that he is portrayed as a real dumb kid in the book and is embarrassed and humiliated to the extent that he is uncomfortable discussing it at length. I totally disagree with his self-assessment, as to me the story shows the world that here is a kid that was raised with nothing, materialistically or emotionally. Yet, he learned to open his mind and heart to what was offered to him in his new environment and was intelligent enough to pick up a game that requires a lot of knowledge and learning. While high school and that much more, college football has a lot of memorization of formations and plays, that is nothing compared to the big, thck playbook binder that he was given as a NFL rookie by the Ravens. To me, I saw a young man that should bge proud that he was smart enough to survive in the tough times, adapt to his new surrounding and then thrive when given the opportunity that few are fortunate enough to receive. Therefore, he should embrace the book and the movie and freely open up to all that as a role model for so many talented kids that right now are in the same predicament that he found himself only a few short years ago.
While I have not seen the movie yet, I plan to do so in the near future. Read the book and go to the movie as well. The story will give you insight into this young man's world and also make you understand why the Ravens traded up to grab the kid that had the internal makeup that Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome looks for when earning his reputation as a great judge of character when picking his players. You will also come out of the reading that it is obvious that the Ravens did not draft this guy to be a right tackle, as he has all the makings of a great left tackle for years to come, as we have seen a whiff of that in his stint at left tackle, filling in for the injured Jared Gaither earlier this season. More importantly, it will only make you that much prouder to have Michael Oher a member of the Baltimore Ravens.