Fat chance

When the lights flood Vaught Hemingway Stadium on Saturday nights, and Ole Miss fans raise the Rebel Yell from the stands, gentle Michael Oher is there savoring every moment. He never misses a game, though by all rights he shouldn't even be in college. Growing up homeless on the streets of Memphis, he was one of the lost. The public schools found it easier to pass, and ignore, him than to fail him. (He never attended third grade, but was promoted to fourth.) He also had a measured IQ of 80--ranking him in the bottom ninth percentile of the human race. But Briarcrest Christian School took a chance on him. Why? Because at 6'5", and 330 pounds, with speed to boot, he was a "freak of nature," an "aberration," that one-in-a-million man who can play the toughest line position in football--left tackle. You guessed it, Oher plays for Ole Miss. The New York Times Magazine cover story on him will make you cheer, and reflect. Had Oher been 30 pounds lighter, a half-second slower, a fraction less strong, he wouldn't have been noticed by Briarcrest's coach (and every college coach in America), and would still be on the street. The numbers of "lost" children are staggering. And they shouldn't require a physique like Oher's to have a chance.

"The Ballad of Big Mike," by Michael Lewis, New York Times Magazine, September 24, 2006

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