No matter what happens when he competes in the Super Bowl on Sunday, Leigh Anne Tuohy said the story of her son, Carolina Panthers’ star Michael Oher, is a winning message for all, during a new interview declaring that “so many people counted Michael out last year and here is a life lesson for everyone: Don’t count people out.”
And she wasn’t talking about her son’s childhood, which served as the inspiration for the book and hit 2009 movie The Blind Side — about Oher’s adoption by Tuohy and her husband Sean into their family, including son S.J., 22, and Collins, 29. Last season the NFL pro wasn’t in a good place. After a toe injury caused him to miss a few games for the Tennessee Titans, he was released from the team last February. The following month he got a break when the Panthers signed him to a two-year contract.
Sandra Bullock (above) played Leigh Anne Tuohy in The Blind Side; Quinton Aaron played Michael Oher (Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures)
"When people are determined and they work hard, you don’t know what can happen,” he mom told ABC News on Friday. “Here’s a kid who didn’t listen to what people said about him. He kept working. He kept focused, and he kept doing the right thing."
No one, including her son — the first round draft pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 2009 and a member of the Super Bowl winning 2013 Ravens team — deserves to be underestimated, she added. “Don’t look at that person because they didn’t do what you think they should’ve done or what you think they should’ve been doing and say they’re done or they’re toast,” Tuohey said. “Don’t label that person because you don’t know their story.”
The Tuohys (Photo: Leigh Ann Tuohy/Facebook)
Tuohy, of course, has been an open book since her family’s fame following The Blind Side’s success. And the mother is hell-bent on making people’s takeaway from her example motivating. “If I’m not known for anything else in this whole world, I want people to know this — if there’s not someone in your social circle who doesn’t look like you, then shame on you,” she told Today. “In this world we live in, racism is alive and well in all venues. We immediately categorize people, and that’s just not right. As a country, we have to stop judging people. I love Michael Oher as much as I love my two biological children. There’s no difference in them. I’d like to be known for stepping up, and encouraging others to do the same.”
(Photo: Leigh Ann Tuohy/Facebook)
Encouragement, after all, is her strong suit. And it’ll be on fully display on Sunday at the Super Bowl. “The whole family will be out there on the field, and we’re super excited,” Tuhoey told Today, adding. “I’m going to put my bling jersey on, and be the proudest, most obnoxious momma that I can possibly be, and enjoy every moment of it.”
(Top photo: Leigh Ann Tuohy/Facebook)