Leigh Anne Tuohy is an American interior designer, entrepreneur and writer, who became a motivational speaker following her rise to fame. She is best known as the adoptive mother of American football offensive tackle, Michael Oher. The 2006 book by Michael Lewis, 'The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game', touches upon their extraordinary story, which was later brought to big screen in the 2009 biographical sports drama, 'The Blind Side'. The movie was immensely popular and was nominated for Best Picture at the 2010 Academy Awards. Following the success of the film, she started to appear on TV shows and various events, sharing her experience and motivating everyone to bring in positive change to other people's lives. In 2010, she appeared on ABC's 'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition' as an interior designer and co-authored the motivational book, 'In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving', with her husband, Sean Tuohy. The same year she received an honorary doctorate from Christian Brothers University. She released another book in 2012, 'Making it Happen: Just Turn Around'. She and her husband are the owners of a massive fast-food restaurant chain that includes franchises for Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Pizza Hut.
The Meteoric Rise to Stardom
Leigh Anne Tuohy became famous after Michael Lewis, a New York Times writer, mentioned a significant part of her life in his book 'The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game'. The book was made into the 2009 movie, 'The Blind Side', which specifically focused on the Tuohy family and went on to win multiple prestigious awards. It is based on the true story of how Leigh Anne, the daughter of a racist U.S. air marshal who had taken her out of her school after it started to allow African-American students, went on to adopt a homeless African-American teenager, Michael Oher, who later became an American football superstar. The Tuohy family did not think much of this very personal event until it was made into the media sensation it is now, following which the family, especially Leigh Anne, has become very popular among the masses. Actress Sandra Bullock, who portrayed her in the film, won the 'Academy Award for Best Actress' and the 'Golden Globe Award for Best Actress'.
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The Life-changing Event
According to Leigh Anne Tuohy, while her family helped Michael Oher find his true potential, their lives were changed just as significantly as his following their decision to take him into the family. She first saw Oher walking on the streets in his shorts, on a very cold day before Thanksgiving, while driving back from her mother's house with her family. She immediately became curious and after learning that the boy, then 16 years old, was a classmate of her daughter at Briarcrest Christian School, stopped to ask where he was going, thinking that they could give him a lift. However, Oher, who was heading towards the 'warm' gym despite the fact that school was closed, failed to provide satisfactory answers to her queries. Known for her motherly persona, Leigh Anne could realize that something was not right with the young boy. A couple weeks later, she bought him new clothes and convinced him to stay with the family temporarily. Soon, all the members of the family started to like him so much that they decided to formally invite him to be a part of the family. She subsequently became his legal guardian and took him in as her own child. Given the right opportunities, the boy's talents flourished as he later graduated with a degree in criminal justice and was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft.
Leigh Anne Tuohy was born on August 9, 1960 in Memphis, Tennessee, to U.S. air marshal Stanley Roberts and his wife Virginia. She has a brother named Stanford. She grew up in a tight-knit family and was very close to her maternal grandmother, who lived with them. She attended Briarcrest Christian School in Memphis, Tennesse, and later completed her graduation from University of Mississippi. There, she was part of the cheerleading team and was an active member of her sorority, Kappa Delta.
She met Sean Tuohy while they were studying at University of Mississippi and later got married to him in 1982. He was a basketball player for the Ole Miss Rebels and made many records, some of which he still holds. They have two biological children, a daughter Collins and a son Sean Jr., and are also the adoptive parents of Michael Oher. Collins is the owner of a thriving cookie business, Whimsy, while Sean Jr. plays basketball for the Loyola Greyhounds. Her own interior designing business, Flair I, took a backseat after she founded the charity, The Making it Happen Foundation.