From homeless to the NFL

As the 2009 NFL draft picks drew to a close on Sunday, one particular draftee drew our attention: Michael Oher. Formerly an offensive tackle for the University of Mississippi, this 6’ 5”, 309-pound All-America tackle was picked up by the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the weekend draft. Now 22, this tough player surprises everyone who hears about his poverty-stricken childhood and serves as a reminder that great talents can come from rough beginnings.

Michael was one of 13 children in his family, born to a drug-addicted mother and an absent father who was later murdered. As a result of these incredibly difficult circumstances, Oher was forced to care for himself by the age of seven, living homeless before he was brought into the foster care system. From that point on, Oher moved in and out of foster homes and elementary and middle schools until, as a teenager, he was adopted by the Tuohey family.

With a support system in place, Oher quickly improved his academic standing and athletic ability enough to earn a college football scholarship. From there, he progressed to become a potential rookie starter with a zest for the game and a multi-million dollar contract.

Based on his numerous interviews, we think that Oher would admit that he couldn’t be where he is today without his adoptive family, and without teachers and coaches who took notice of him. On the same note, however, Oher is proud of the goals he has accomplished and is quick to point out that he has worked hard to get there.

As we serve hundreds of families with children each night, we hope that sports fans will look at Oher’s rise to fame and allow themselves, for a moment, to imagine the potential inside of each homeless child.

(USAToday, Change.org, and ProFootball24x7.com have buzzed about Oher’s story, too.)

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