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Real-Life Subject of The Blind Side Relates Her Family’s Experience

Photo of Collins Tuohy

by Andrew Peters ’15

Collins Tuohy, adoptive sister of Michael Oher, gave an honest account of her family’s experiences as depicted in the Hollywood blockbuster, The Blind Side, to students on Oct. 17 in Cole Hall.

Tuohy laughingly told students that she receives all kinds of questions regarding her family, but there are always two that come up in every conversation: “What is everyone in your family doing now?” and “How accurate is the movie The Blind Side?” Tuohy emphasized that her family is doing great and added that she experienced “the most wonderful part” of her life as Oher helped the Baltimore Ravens win the Super Bowl in February.

Tuohy stressed that the message of the movie is 100 percent accurate, although there were some small liberties taken by Hollywood. For example, Tuohy made it clear that even though she did in the movie, she has never played volleyball, instead competing in track and field, especially pole-vaulting.

Tuohy lightheartedly recounted another inaccuracy that her brother, Sean Jr. (SJ), saw in the movie. While being interviewed on ABC’s 20/20, SJ commented that 97 percent of the movie was accurate. Upon being pressed for the inaccurate 3 percent, he said, “Well, Sandra Bullock is way nicer than my mom.”

Originally, Bullock did not want to play LeAnn Tuohy because she felt that she might not do her character justice. It was not until Timothy Bourne, executive producer of The Blind Side, suggested a visit with LeAnn did Bullock begin to warm to the role, and once Bullock found out that both she and LeAnn were both crazy enough to keep their 9 millimeter handguns in the center console of their SUVs, she quickly accepted.

Tuohy’s story soon turned to the time that her family picked up Oher from the streets of Memphis, Tennessee. She emphasized how LeAnn had told her husband, Sean, to “turn around” not thinking that it would change their lives forever. When Oher came to their family, he had “zero value placed on him.” Every day, he walked Poplar Avenue, the busiest street in Memphis, and thousands of people unknowingly passed him. They never knew that they were passing a future NFL player.

Tuohy questioned, “If someone like Michael could have been missed, who else is falling through the cracks?”

Using her father’s words, Tuohy emphasized that “Michael was a gift to us,” and there is always something that you can do for someone else. She pushed students to look beyond and stop judging people because they do not dress well or because they work at McDonald’s. She challenged students to make a difference, saying, “When you leave tonight, stop and get to know someone that you did not know before; it may change your life.”

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