Helping Hand 

Michael Oher — the football player who went from a hardscrabble childhood to playing for Briarcrest, Ole Miss, and the Baltimore Ravens of the NFL — gave only two interviews after the book about him, The Blind Side by Michael Lewis, came out in 2006. Oher gave no interviews for The Blind Side, the movie based on that book. But he's talking now, because Oher's own memoir, I Beat the Odds: From Homelessness to The Blind Side and Beyond (written with sports writer Don Yaeger and published by Gotham Books) is here. And Oher will be here this week — in his hometown, Memphis — to do a booksigning at Davis-Kidd Booksellers.

"Somebody brought it to my attention that I should write a book," Oher said in a recent phone interview. "I was like, I really don't want to. There's a lot out there about me already. But I was reminded that I could reach so many lives ... so many kids' lives. If I could help by writing about my own experiences, I thought I should go for it."

Those experiences include the difficult times Oher had growing up in Memphis the son of a drug-addicted mother who often left her children to fend for themselves — whether it was for food or for a roof over their heads. And I Beat the Odds is just that: a record, very much in Oher's own voice, of the drive and self-discipline it took for him to overcome some very long odds. If Oher can do it, he wants children in similar circumstances to know, they can too.

"These kids need an example to show them the way," Oher said. "And that's what this book of mine is about: me reaching out and maybe changing lives. When kids see me, maybe they'll think if I can do it, they can do it. They just need a helping hand."

Michael Oher discussing and signing "I Beat the Odds," at Davis-Kidd Booksellers, Wednesday, February 16th, 6 p.m.

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