The Blind Side Summary, Chapter 11: Freak of Nurture

by Amy Holwerda

This chapter is a free excerpt from Quicklet on The Blind Side.

Chapter 11 recounts Michael Oher’s childhood. Michael’s mother, Dee Dee Oher, had grown up knowing that her father had been murdered. She never found out by whom. Her mother had been an alcoholic completely incapable of taking care of Dee Dee or her brother, Robert.  Dee Dee bounced around in foster homes and institutions before getting hooked on drugs and giving birth to her first son at the age of twenty. The father of her first four children, Odelle Watkins, soon ended up in prison for murder. When a friend of his, Michael Jerome Williams, was released from prison, Watkins asked if he would pay Dee Dee a visit, just to tell her that he was doing alright.

When Williams arrived, Dee Dee was a single woman. She was also hooked on crack cocaine, which she never stopped smoking, not even when she became pregnant with William’s child. When the baby was born, she named him after his father: Michael Jerome Williams. Around the time the baby was born, Williams Senior ended up back in prison and Dee Dee decided she no longer wanted her newborn to have his father’s name. She started calling him Michael Oher, although she never got around to legally changing his name.


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Chapter 11 recounts Michael Oher’s childhood. Michael’s mother, Dee Dee Oher, had grown up knowing that her father had been murdered. She never found out by whom. Her mother had been an alcoholic completely incapable of taking care of Dee Dee or her brother, Robert.  Dee Dee bounced around in foster homes and institutions before getting hooked on drugs and giving birth to her first son at the age of twenty. The father of her first four children, Odelle Watkins, soon ended up in prison for murder. When a friend of his, Michael Jerome Williams, was released from prison, Watkins asked if he would pay Dee Dee a visit, just to tell her that he was doing alright.

When Williams arrived, Dee Dee was a single woman. She was also hooked on crack cocaine, which she never stopped smoking, not even when she became pregnant with William’s child. When the baby was born, she named him after his father: Michael Jerome Williams. Around the time the baby was born, Williams Senior ended up back in prison and Dee Dee decided she no longer wanted her newborn to have his father’s name. She started calling him Michael Oher, although she never got around to legally changing his name.

By the time Michael was 5-years-old, Dee Dee had given birth to 4 more children. Now she was raising 13 children all under the age of 15 but she wasn’t really caring for any of them because she was too addicted to crack cocaine. Ironically, from the time Michael was very young, his greatest fear was that he would be separated from his mother. That fear was realized when Michael was 8-years-old and child protective services came to place him in a foster home. At the time, Michael and his siblings had no food and no shelter, but they still ran from the authority.

When the police finally caught up to the 7 boys, Michael had learned how to run. He ran from every foster home and hospital he was placed in, always seeking out his mother. When he was 10-years-old, he found his mother in Hurt Village, the lowest of all ghettos. Where drugs and crime ran rampant, and Dee Dee was not alone. She had given birth to 5 more children. For a year-and-a-half, Michael stayed out of school fearing that the CPS would come looking for him there. Looking back on his childhood on Page 271, Michael noted that in Hurt Village, “No one ever said, ‘What are you doing out of school?’ No one made me do anything.”

Michael aged, maturing aimlessly in Hurt Village, seemingly unaware of the outside world except the fantasy about becoming the next Michael Jordan. When Michael was 15-years-old, he met Big Tony, a man who promised he could help Michael reach that dream. This was right around the time that Big Tony’s mother Betty Boo died, and he took Steven and Michael to Briarcrest Christian School. Michael struggled to adjust to life at Briarcrest School, which was the polar opposite of Hurt Village. On Page 278, Michael states that, “What was a rule for white kids was an iron law for a black kid. Because a black kid who got into trouble in a white world was a black kid on his way out of that world.”

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