In Your Ear: Michael Oher

May 12, 2011
Originally published on May 12, 2011 11:53 am
Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit

MICHEL MARTIN, host: From the movies that are wowing critics in Cannes, we turn now to a man whose story inspired film audiences around the world. Michael Oher became a household name after the 2009 hit movie "The Blind Side" dramatized his rise from poverty to stardom in the National Football League. We caught up with Oher earlier this year to talk about his new memoir, "I Beat the Odds: From Homelessness to the Blind Side and Beyond." And in the course of that conversation, he told us about the songs that keep him going.

MICHAEL OHER: My name is Michael Oher and I'm offensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens. And my go-to song if I'm going to - getting ready for a game - is probably Tupac "No More Pain."

(Soundbite of song, "No More Pain")

TUPAC SHAKUR: (Rapping) Can you hear me? Laced with this game, I know you fear me, spit the secret to war, so cowards fear me, my only fear of death is reincarnation.

OHER: Tupac, he's a legend. And I like the things that he has (unintelligible) talk about.

(Soundbite of song, "No More Pain")

SHAKUR: (Rapping) I came to bring the pain, hardcore to the brain, let's go inside my astral plane. I came to bring the pain, hardcore to the brain, let's go inside my astral plane.

OHER: Yo Gotti as well. He's from Memphis. And he speaks a lot of the stuff I've been through. So that's why I listen to it.

(Soundbite of song, "Touchdown")

YO GOTTI: (Rapping) Brother still wild. I gotta get this money. I just had another child. They say I'm getting fat, guess I'm eatin' good. Twenty racks in the motor.

OHER: Another favorite song is probably by Tupac as well. It's "Dear Mama."

(Soundbite of song, "Dear Mama")

SHAKUR: (Rapping) When I was young me and my mama had beef. Seventeen years old kicked out on the streets. Though back at the time I never thought I'd see her face. Ain't a woman alive that could take my mama's place. Suspended from school, scared to go home, I was a fool with the big boys breaking all the rules. I shed tears with my baby sister.

Over the years we was poorer than the other little kids. And even though we had different daddies, the same drama when things went wrong we'd blame mama. I reminisce on the stress I caused. It was hell. Hugging on my mama from a jail cell.

OHER: I mean, basically, you know, so many mothers and, you know, sons are going through the same things. And, you know, I know a lot of people - I knew a lot of people like that. And I understand the exact - I basically listen to music that, you know, I understand - if I've been through a lot of it and I understand what's going on. So, you know, that's why I listen to the music I listen to.

(Soundbite of song, "Dear Mama")

SHAKUR: (Rapping) You are appreciated.

REGGIE GREEN AND SWEET FRANKLIN: (Singing) Lady, don't you know we love you, sweet lady.

SHAKUR: Dear mama.

FRANKLIN: Place no one above you, sweet lady.

SHAKUR: You are appreciated.

FRANKLIN: Don't you know we love you?

MARTIN: That was NFL star Michael Oher telling us what's playing in his ear.

(Soundbite of song, "Dear Mama")

SHAKUR: He passed away and I didn't cry 'cause my anger wouldn't let me feel for a stranger. They say I'm wrong and I'm heartless. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.