As Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock) narrates, we see old football footage of a NFL game between the NY Giants and the Washington Redskins. She explains that in the NFL, the highest paid player is the quarterback. But that most people don’t know that the 2nd highest paid player is usually the left tackle. A Left tackle needs to be big, strong, smart and have “feet as quick as a hiccup”, and at all times, he must protect his quarterback’s left, his blind side. The game shown is the one when NY Giants player Lawrence Taylor tackled quarterback Thiesman and the injury from it ended Theisman’s career. Taylor changed the way the game is played and because of that, owners now realize how important the left tackle is. She goes on to say that Lawrence Taylor changed Theisman’s career, NFL football, and her life.
Next, we see a conference room in an office building, and a woman is grilling Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron) about his unusual predicament. He asks if he can go, and she says no. He looks confused and worried.
“Two Year Earlier” in Memphis, Tennessee, and we see a man, Big Tony, in a mechanic’s shirt driving 2 boys in a battered car, through bad parts of town, then through very nice and wealthy parts of town, to a private school. It is beautiful brick with white pillars, and an impressive campus. He meets with Coach Burt Cotton (Ray McKinnon), so see if there is any way he can get his son, Steven, into the school. They look out the window and see a smaller boy playing basketball with a massively huge boy. The boy’s dad says his son is the smaller one, and good at all sports. The large boy is “Big Mike”, a neighbor that sleeps on his couch, as his mom is on crack, and he has no place to go.
Coach Cotton meets with the board members of Wingate Christian School, and pleads for them to accept Michael to the school, anticipating his athletic abilities will help his teams.
Big Mike arrives at Wingate, and pauses to read the inscription over the entrance: “With men, this is possible. With God, all things are possible”. Once inside, he is in science class, and given a pre-test, to assess what knowledge the students have. He turns his paper in, and has written nothing on it other than his name and a drawing.
While sleeping on the couch, he overhears Big Tony arguing with his wife about Big Mike. She wants him out of their house, as it isn’t’ their responsibility.
At a Wingate girl’s volleyball game, Leigh Ann Tuohy joins her husband, Sean (Tim McGraw) and son S.J. (Jae Head) to watch their daughter, Collins (Lilly Collins) play. As the game ends and they leave the gym, Sean notices Big Mike picking up leftover bags of popcorn that the fans have left in the bleachers, and ponders this.
The science teacher (Kim Dickens) enters the teachers lounge one day, and tells the other teachers that Big Mike can think. She reads a paper he has written and thrown away, called “White Walls” where he talks about being a misfit at the school. It is touching, but the English teacher smugly asks how his spelling was.
At school he walks past the playground, he sees two cute little girls on the swings and says hi. They turn, see this huge black boy, and run away, obviously scared. S.J. sees this and tells Big Mike to smile next time, so they won’t be scared. S.J’s mom honks the horn and he says good bye and goes to his car. His mom asks who that big boy was, and he tells her it’s Big Mike, as new student at the school. She looks, and then drives away. The principal comes out to tell Big Mike that the police dept has called to say his dad has dies. He asks Mike if he was close to his dad, and Big Mike can’t even remember the last time he saw his dad.
Late at night, we see Big Mike in a Laundromat, washing a shirt in the sink by hand. A woman leaves with her clean laundry, and the dryer is still going, so Big Mike puts his shirt in to dry, and reads his Biology book.
Wingate Middle School has its Thanksgiving Pageant, and the Tuohy family is seen leaving, with S.J. wearing an Indian headdress. They talk about his performance as they drive past Big Mike, walking down the road in a t-shirt and shorts, in the freezing cold and rain. Sean stops and rolls down the window and asks Big Mike where he is going, and he says the gym. They drive away, but Leigh Anne tells Sean to turn the car around. She gets out and asks Big Mike why he is going to the gym, and he says because it is warm. She tells him the gym is closed, and then asks him if he has a place to stay. He looks down, and she tells him, “Don’t you dare lie to me”, and he shakes his head no. She takes him back to their car, and brings him home and makes him a bed on the living room sofa.
Next morning, Leigh Anne goes downstairs, but Big Mike is gone, and the linens and blankets are folded up neatly. She looks for him and sees him walking down the street, and runs out after him. She asks if he is going to eat Thanksgiving with his family, but he says no, so she brings him back to her house to stay. The Tuohys are watching football on TV, and when she says dinner is served, they grab a plate and head back to the sofa to watch and eat there. Big Mike is eating alone in the dining room. She thinks, and then sets up the food in a big formal spread in the dining room, then turns off the TV and tells them all to eat in the dining room together. They are surprised, but do it, and hold hands while she says grace. While they are eating, she asks Big Mike if he likes to shop, because she thinks she needs to teach him tomorrow.
They are driving in the car to shop for clothes for Big Mike, but he tells her he already has some. As they talk, she asks him to tell her something about himself, and he says he really doesn’t like being called Big Mike. So Leigh Anne says that from now on, he will be Michael to her.
They arrive at his apartment in Hurt Village, a bad part of Memphis, and 5 thugs are on the front stoop. She tries to leave her car to help him, but Michael slams her door shut and locks her in, and tells her firmly not to get out. He goes to his apartment and finds an eviction notice on the door. He tells Leigh Anne that his mom must have moved to a nicer place. He takes her to a local mens store, and she is a bit scared of the area, and Michael tells her not to worry, that he will take care of her, and he has her back. He chooses a shirt, and wears it to school the next day: a red and gold striped rugby shirt.
Leigh Anen later asks Michael if he wants to stay with them; if so, she’ll make a place for him. He says he doesn’t want to go anyplace else. She turns a room into his bedroom, and shows him the desk, dresser and new bed. He says he’s never had one, and she assumes he means he’s never had his own room, but Michael softly says, no, he’s never had his own bed.
At a meeting at school, Leigh Anne learns that his GPA is low and there are very few records for Michael, but that he has an IQ of 80, and low scores on all areas of an aptitude test except one: protective instincts, where he scored in the 98th percentile. The biology teacher tells the other teachers that Michael listens and learns, as she gave him his exam orally, since he is such a poor reader, and he got a C+. The history teacher then does the same, and he also passes that exam.
The family is in the car on their way to dinner, and they explain to Michael that their dad owns 85 Taco Bells, KFC’s and Long John Silver restaurants. But they are going somewhere special to celebrate that Michael’s grades have risen enough that he qualifies for athletics and can try spring football. Before going in, they run into the bookstore while LeAnn has to pick up a book. She finds then sitting in the children’s book section, reading Where the Wild Things Are aloud. It was Collin’s favorite book, and Ferdinand the Bull was S.J’s favorite. Leigh Anne asks Michael if his mama ever read these books to him, and he just silently shakes his head. Later at home, she sits on the bed and reads Ferdinand to the boys.
At the Tuohy home, it is decorated for Christmas with a tree and decorations on the fireplace, and the family is dresses up for a portrait with a photographer. They take one, and then she calls Michael to be in the next one. Sean looks at her quizzically, and she says, “It’s not like it going on the Christmas card”. The family is watching Tennessee football on TV later, and Leigh Anne tells Michael she always roots for whoever Tennessee is playing; he cheers against them “with gusto”. They play a message from a cousin on the machine: he wants to know if they know they have a “colored boy” on their Christmas card? They look at LeAnn, and she just smiles.
Now at school, Michael pushes the little girls on the swings and they giggle and ask to go higher. He laughs and the three all enjoy it. Collins walks past and smiles when she see them together having fun.
At Michael’s first football practice, he does not do well, having never played before. Coach Cotton yells instructions, but Michael just doesn’t get it. Leigh Anne and Sean watched the practice, and afterwards the coach is amazed that having such an upbringing would make Michael more aggressive, even violent on the field, but he doesn’t act that way. Leigh Anne muses to herself that he is just like Ferdinand the Bull.
S.J. becomes Michael’s trainer, and leads him in drill, exercises and work outs. We see Michael get better and quicker with S.J.
Michael asks Leigh Anne if he could get a driver’s license. Leigh Anne is puzzled as to why he’d want one, but he explains that he wants to have something to carry with his name on it. She goes to see how to do this, and finds out she’d need to become his legal guardian. She asks Sean how he feels about this, and he agrees. They find his records and that he is a ward of the state, having been forcibly removed from his mother, who was/is addicted to drugs. He’s been in several foster homes, and run away. Leigh Anne is amazed when they tell her she can be his guardian without even letting his mother know. She finds his mother and goes to meet her and tell her of their plans. Leigh Anne offers to let her see Michael, and his mother refuses, not wanting him to see her like she is. Leigh Ann sits with her, and holds her hand. The family asks Michael if he would like them to become his guardians, and for him to be a part of their family, and he answers that he thought he already was. They smile, and decide to do it.
Michael gets his license, and drive S.J. to get a new video game. On the way, a truck backs out in front of them, and they collide in a terrible accident. Leigh Anne runs to the scene, where Michael is sitting on the curb, with his head in his hands, saying how sorry he is. Leigh Anne finds S.J. with the paramedics, who have very minor injuries. The police can’t believe he is uninjured as he was in the front seat and the air bag deployed, and it should have snapped his neck since he is so small, and guess that it must have, luckily, malfunctioned. She returns to Michael, explains that S.J. is ok, and that the accident wasn’t his fault. She notices his arm is bleeding, and asks how it happened-he says he “stopped it” and she realizes he put his arm in front of S.J. and stopped the air bag from fully hitting him. She is stunned.
At the next practice, S.J. is videotaping it, and Leigh Anne arrives. She sees Michael isn’t doing much better, and hears him yell at Michael. She walks right on the field during practice and talks to Michael. She asks Michael if he remembers how he protected her when they were at the menswear store in Hurt Village, and said he had her back, and he remembers. Then she grabs the quarterback and tells Michael that on the field, the team is his family, and when he sees the quarterback he should picture her, and protect him. Then she grabs the tailback, and tells Michael that when he sees him he should think of S.J. and protect him. Then she says to go have some fun, and leaves. His next play, he drills the defenseman and everyone cheers. He does it again and again, and finally understands what his position is.
At his first football game, the Tuohys are in the stands, and a red-neck fan/father from the other team is behind them. He makes rude remarks and S.J. starts to say something, but she tell him its just “stick and stones” and to let it go. Coach Cotton calls complicated plays and the defense switches on Michael and he misses his tackles. Again. And again. Leigh Ann is frustrated, and grabs her cell phone. We hear a ring tone from Coach Cotton’s pocket, and she chews him out for not calling a run-play. He is incredulous that she’d call him in a game and question his play calls, and hangs up on her. Next play, when Michael is sown on the ground, the red-neck player kicks Michael in the head. Coach Cotton is furious and yells at the ref to throw a flag. He does…at the Coach for unsportsmanlike behavior. Coach Cotton yells back at the ref to go ahead and call it on him, because on the field, Michael is like his son. Michael hears this, smiles, and holds Coach back from the ref. He goes out and drills the red-neck kid, and pushes him back the length of the field, dumping him over the fence near the bus. Wingate scores a touchdown, and goes on the win by a large margin, now that Michael knows how to play.
S.J. makes DVDs of Michael’s game film, and sends them out. They make it to the Army All Star staff, and they are interested, and then many college coaches start calling and visit during a practice. When they see him play, they all want him, but assume he will choose Tennessee since they are in Memphis. Wingate goes on to the playoffs and win the championship for private schools. The scholarship offers pour in for Michael-LSU, Alabama, South Carolina, Auburn, Clemson, Tennessee all come to the house and make him an offer, along with an offer to S.J. that he can run out on the field with the team if he chooses their school. Leigh Anne finds out he needs a 2.5 GPA to accept, which means he’ll need a near A average his senior year to be eligible. They hire a tutor, Miss Sue, who is an alum from Ole Miss. Ole Miss is where Leigh Anne and Sean went to college; Leigh Anne was a cheerleader and Sean played basketball. She warns Leigh Anne that they should know she is a democrat. They hire her, and as Sean and Leigh Anne watch the tutoring, Sean remarks that who’d have thought they’d have a black son before they knew a democrat?
During Letter of Intent Day, Michael is at a table with 3 caps on it: LSU, Tennessee and Ole Miss. He signs with Ole Miss, his parent’s alma mater.
Michael’s grades improve with Miss Sue’s help, but not enough in English. Leigh Anne asks the teacher what it will take, and he explains that the final essay is worth 1/3 of the final grade. So, Miss Sue tries to get Michael to choose which piece of classic literature he will write about. As she reads off the choices, Sean starts reciting a section from Charge of the Light Brigade. He explains the story to Michael, and how LSU named their football field “Death Valley” from that story. Michael learns about honor and courage, and chooses that for his essay. He writes it, and scores well enough to earn a 2.52 GPA, graduates and can go to Ole Miss.
Now we go back to the beginning of the movie, where he is under investigation from the NCAA, and in the conference room. The woman questioning him is aggressive and tells him the NCAA thinks that The Tuohys probably gave him a home and education to steer him to Ole Miss, to help their school’s team. Michael is confused and stunned, and runs out. Outside, he confronts Leigh Anne and asks if it is true. Before she can explain, he runs away. At home that night, he still isn’t back and they are worried.
Michael turns up in Hurt Village, looking for his mom. The thug tells him she’ll be along soon, and has him wait inside. They had him a beer and start asking him about his new family. Then the thug gets ugly and makes degrading comments about Leigh Anne and his sister, Collins. Michael tells him to shut up, and the thug pulls a gun. A fight breaks out, and Michael throws the thug and his buddies all around the apartment, breaking furniture. He is frightened, and has a flashback to when he was taken from his mother by the police, and flees.
Leigh Anne shows up the next day, and asks the thug about Michael. He tells her if she finds Michael, he’d better sleep with one eye open, because he’ll get even. He yells at her and asks, “You hear me, bitch?” She stops, turns around and gets in his face and says, “No, you hear me, bitch.” She threatens him with the fact that she is friends with the D.A. and a member of the NRA and always is packing a gun, and leaves. Michael calls on her cell phone, and she picks him up at the laundromat. They go home.
Michael goes back to the NCAA investigator, and explains to her that he wants to go to Ole Miss because that is where his family goes to school. She smiles, and understands.
The family takes Michael to Ole Miss and gets him settled. As they leave, Leigh Anne pats him and says good bye, and heads to the car. We can see she is teary-eyed, but doesn’t want anyone to see her cry. Michael goes to the car, knocks on the window, and tells her he needs a proper hug. She smiles, get out, and they embrace.
Leigh Anne narrates while we see scenes of the actual Michael Oher playing at Ole Miss. She thanks God, and Lawrence Taylor, that her son survived his rough life. Next, the actual footage of the 2009 NFL draft is shown, and Michael Oher is drafted by the Baltimore Ravens.
The final scenes are photos of Michael and his family, and his football career. The text says that Collins went on to be a cheerleader at Ole Miss. Sean and Leigh Anne still live in Memphis. And it shows S.J. running out with the coach of Ole Miss, in front of the team, as they go on the field, and it says that “S.J. got everything that was promised him”.