I Beat The Odds: From Homlessness to The Blind Side and Beyond
By Michael Oher with Don Yaeger
Published by Gotham Books, 2011
Copy borrowed from the library
What's it about? Courtesy of Goodreads:
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 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.
I loved the book The Blind Side (check out my Goodreads review here) and I loved the film adaptation starring Sandra Bullock. I fell in love with the rags to riches real life fairy tale that was Michael Oher. He was that kid from the wrong side of town with a strong will, determination, and the strength to make his dreams come true. And there's football. There really is something for everyone with this story.
And now there is even more, thanks to Michael Oher's book, I Beat The Odds: From Homelessness to The Blind Side and Neyond. Oher embraces his role model status and strives to give kids growing up like he did a bit of advice and guidance to get them through the foster care system and into a successful adult life. He urges adults to get involved by being a foster parent or by volunteering with organizations that serve children like the YMCA and Boys and Girls Club of America.
Through retelling his story, he helps get the word out about what it's like growing up in and out of the foster care system, having a mom who can't stay clean for more than a few months, and a father who only came around a couple of times and slipped a couple of bucks into his hands. He also sets the record straight on a few things that were misconstrued in the movie The Blind Side. He knew the game of football; he didn't need SJ to show him plays by rearranging condiment jars on the kitchen table. Also, Michael Oher wasn't stupid. He just didn't have the right tools, like study skills, in order to succeed.
If you are a fan of The Blind Side as a book, movie, or both, I highly recommend Oher's I Beat The Odds. It's not so much about football as it is about sports in general being a catalyst for a young boy to get his act together and get out of the ghetto before he got sucked in by the gangs and the drugs. I really respect Michael Oher for embracing his role model status and for encouraging so many children in America to reach for their dreams, even if they live in foster care.
On a scale of one (I hated it!) to five (I loved it!), I give Michael Oher's I Beat The Odds a five.