A poor black teenager joins a rich white family on his way to becoming a star in the NFL. It's the plot of a best-selling book turned box-office hit. And as Slate pointed out last week, the remarkable thing about "The Blind Side" isn't that it's true, it's that the story it tells isn't unique. Dozens of football players have traveled a route similar to that of Michael Oher -- now an offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens -- including one who plays here in Seattle.
As told in ESPN.com's excellent recent profile of Williams, Lawson was at her wits end with the teen. He'd never met his father. His mother was battling addiction. And in the vacuum left by his parents had stepped in some shady characters.
One day, after Williams had been suspended (again) from school, Lawson shared her concerns with Kathy McCurdy, a wealthy white attorney from Tampa whose three kids Lawson babysat.
McCurdy promised to take care of Williams. She went to his school the next day and told him he was coming back to their house. Not just for a couple of days, but for good. He went from struggling to find a roof over his head at night to sharing bunk beds with Ryan, who was 12 at the time. He once kept his belongings in a 1983 Honda Civic. Now, he would go shopping with Ali, who was 8 years old, and play video games with Chris, who was 14.The whole profile is worth your time. And it might make you think twice before yelling at the TV the next time Williams does that annoying "first down" motion after every catch. Again, I repeat, "might."
"When Mike moved into the house that was it. It wasn't like he was moving into the house for a little bit," McCurdy said. "I told him, 'This is what you're part of now, and that's the way it is.' The boys were his little brothers and Ali was his little sister. He came in and treated her the same way Chris and Ryan treated her, and was protective and confided in Chris and Ryan like they were his brothers. When you look back on it and try to put it into words you can't. That's just the way it was. It was just natural."