“When Sean Tuohy saw the new kid sitting in the high school gym, he saw a boy with nowhere to go but up. The question was how to take him there.” — from The Blind Side
Sean was an American success story: he had come from nothing and made himself rich,” wrote Michael Lewis in The Blind Side, the best-selling book that inspired the major motion picture starring Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw. The Blind Side tells the story of Michael Oher, a homeless teenager turned first round NFL draft pick, with the support and love of an unlikely adoptive family: the Tuohys. The movie’s message of hope, love, and opportunity has resonated with millions of people. Sean Tuohy, Michael’s adoptive father, is an extremely successful multi-brand fast food entrepreneur. Before conquering the franchise world, he was a South Eastern Conference (SEC) record-breaking basketball player and drafted in the NBA. In addition to owning and operating 60+ fast food restaurants, Tuohy has over 15 years of experience as an NBA Broadcaster for the Memphis Grizzlies. In February 2013, Sean and the whole Tuohy family were on the sidelines cheering Michael and the Baltimore Ravens on to his first Super Bowl victory. Michael now plays for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers as an offensive tackle.
At the Podium
Sean is one of the most sought after motivational speakers and has given lectures to a broad spectrum of audiences from Fortune 500 Corporations, to town halls, to religious groups, to college campuses. At the podium, Sean invites audiences to go behind the scenes of the Tuohy household with an inspiring and heartwarming message: “In our house, we believe in miracles. One simple random act of kindness can change someone’s life.” Tuohy shares personal anecdotes with his signature southern charm and asks all of us to consider a simple question: how many other kids just like Michael Oher are falling through the cracks every day? And how can we make an impact big enough to change a broken system? Tuohy speaks on topics from finance, to giving, to valuing people correctly.
A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, Tuohy knew what it meant to be the poor kid in a private school… he had been one himself. With sports as his meal ticket through high school and college, Tuohy left home after graduating from The Isidore Newman School and headed for The University of Mississippi, better known as Ole Miss, on a basketball scholarship. When Tuohy graduated from Ole Miss, he shattered every major SEC assist record. Tuohy had become a legend in the SEC! He led Ole Miss to their first ever SEC championship and holds honors from Hall of Fames to retired jerseys.
Drafted by the NBA’s New Jersey Nets in 1982, Tuohy opted to continue his career overseas before returning to the US to be with his father during his final days. He became a successful entrepreneur building a company that now owns and operates fast food restaurants including Taco Bell, KFC and Freddy’s.
Tuohy has been married to his college cheerleader sweetheart, the former Leigh Anne Roberts, since 1982. They are the proud parents of daughter Collins and sons Michael Oher and Sean Junior.
Prior to Tuohy’s NBA Broadcasting career, he was an analyst for the radio broadcast at Ole Miss as well as a broadcaster for Westwood One and CBS radio. In addition to his demanding business, broadcasting, school and church schedules (he along with several others helped to create one of the fastest growing evangelical churches in Memphis, the Grace Evangelical Church) Tuohy is heavily involved in numerous organizations that support kids. Tuohy says, “It’s easy to beat up a kid. The hard thing is to build him up.”
That philosophy is what propelled the Tuohy family to bring Michael into their home, give him love and support, and eventually adopt him as their son.
The Tuohy’s life was chronicled in Michael Lewis’ New York Times bestseller, The Blind Side. The book then went on to become a record breaking Hollywood Blockbuster movie that has earned more than $400 million at the box office. The Blind Side has become the number one sports themed movie in history surpassing Rocky! The Tuohy family’s inspirational story has been covered over national media, including Katie, Fox and Friends, Good Morning America, 20/20, The Today Show, Dr. Drew, Sean Hannity, and Huckabee.
Years after The Blind Side has burst onto the scene, breaking box office records and inspiring individuals nationwide, Tuohy continues to make an impact. In July 2010, he and his wife Leigh Anne released the New York Times bestseller, In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving. They also established their charity, The Making it Happen Foundation which promotes awareness, provides help, and seeks to improve the standard of living for all the children fighting to survive in the invisible cracks in society. Tuohy serves on numerous boards and never misses an opportunity to mentor and coach others up.
Through all of their projects Sean, and the entire Tuohy family, continue their mission to inspire hope, ignite generosity, and make it happen for the deserving but underserved youth in our society.