Photo: Ralph Nelson
The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game was a critical success, but the Tuohys' decisions were met with much criticism. When this white family adopted a black teenager, friends, family members and strangers started talking.
"We got nasty letters and nasty phone calls. Nasty innuendos," Leigh Anne says. "It was endless, but we just decided early on that you can't let those people interfere with your life or ruin your life. If you did, you'd just be crazy with trying to ward off all the naysayers."
For the most part, the Tuohys ignored the negativity, but a few people got phone calls from Leigh Anne, a fiercely protective mother with a commanding presence and charming Southern drawl. "I thought, 'I'm just going to bully them back,'" she says.
In college, Michael excelled on and off the football field, and in 2009, he was drafted by the NFL's Baltimore Ravens. "It was a great day," Leigh Anne says.
Around this time, another young man's life was about to change thanks to Michael and the Tuohys. The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game was being adapted into a feature film, The Blind Side, and movie producers were scouring the country for a young man to play Michael.
When Quinton Aaron, a 25-year-old from the Bronx who stands 6'8'', walked into an open call, Quinton says the casting agent started to cry. "She said, 'Oh my god. We found Michael,'" he says. "It was crazy."