When new Ravens running back Javorius Allen saw the movie "The Blind Side," he felt he was basically watching his own life story.
Allen’s journey to the NFL mirrors that of former Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher, the subject of the 2009 Academy Award winning film. Allen grew up 20 miles outside of Tallahassee, Fla. in conditions unfit for any child to grow up in. He never knew his father, and his mother sent Allen and his two brothers to live with his grandmother.
The family was lucky to have a roof over their heads. They had to put towels at their patchwork front door to keep snakes from entering. One of the boys was forced to the emergency room after a roach crawled into his ear, forcing the family to sleep with cotton balls in their ears going forward.
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Allen followed his older brother, Devon, everywhere until he was 12 years old, when Devon was sent to prison for attempted murder. Refusing to follow his brother’s path, Allen found a local Boys & Girls Club, a discovery that changed his life. He made quite an impression on club director Mickey Cullen, whose family eventually took Allen in and raised him as one of their own.
The Cullens became Allen’s version of the Tuohys, the family that became Oher’s on his way to football stardom. Allen is forever grateful for where he is today, but is aware that his story is all to prevalent in today’s society.
"That’s when I realized that it wasn’t just me with this story," Allen told the team’s official website, recalling when his second family asked him if he had seen Oher’s biopic. "There are other people out there having hard times."
Now a fourth-round pick with the potential to be a viable NFL running back, a proud Cullen says a degree from USC is an even more impressive feat for Allen, considering where he came from.
"Obviously we were proud of him being drafted and his football stuff, but graduating from college was a bigger deal than the NFL,” Cullen said. “He was a really good kid. He was a good young man. Now he’s growing up into being a good man.”