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Letters About Literature National Winners 2019

National Winner, Level 1 Honor: Evan Kotick

Dear Michael Lewis,

As I walked up to the homeless downtown Clevelander with a crisp five dollar bill in my hand, my skin became clammy. The sensation reminded me of how frightened I was that time I gave that speech in front of my whole class. Although I was nervous, my need to do something that might possibly brighten this man’s day overrode my apprehension. When I handed the bill to him his reply consisted of just two words, two words that made me think, two words that made me smile, two words that made my heart feel warmer than a fire on winter’s coldest day: “God bless.” Thank, you, Mr. Lewis for that opportunity. Thank you for writing The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game. It made me think. It made me feel. It made me take action.

Your characters changed me because they made me understand fundamental truths. For example, you made me understand that everyone deserves to be treated equally. Some things are beyond anyone’s control, like skin color, and it’s unfair to poke fun or to judge someone on account of such things. I wouldn’t want that to happen to me. Nobody would. Your book made me realize that if Leigh Ann had made fun of Michael and treated him discourteously simply because he was black he would have given up football long before qualifying for the NFL.

Your book changed me because it taught me empathy. Many times while reading it I found it impossible to put down because I was so concerned about Michael. One particular instance—when I was too excited to go to bed—was when Michael’s adoptive parents, Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, were investigated by the National Collegiate Athletic Association when anonymous accusations were made that they had a grand scheme to utilize Michael to bilk money out of the University of Mississippi.

Your book not only taught me empathy—it also inspired me to action. I think it’s amazing that Leigh Ann unhesitatingly took in Michael, without giving the prospect of what she was about to do a second thought. Later on, when some of her friends were belittling Michael, she made sure that they stopped and gave Michael their respect. One day, I wish to be like her, not necessarily to follow her example by adopting someone but by standing tall against adversity and doing the right thing.

My journey towards becoming that type of person began while reading your book. Helping that homeless Clevelander enabled me to put what I learned into practice. Reaching out to someone exhilarated me, gave me a sense of elation that was indescribable. I became determined that what I had done must not be an isolated gesture on my part because I hold dear what actor Morgan Freeman said: “How do we change the world? One random act of kindness at a time.”

The Blind Side has made a lifelong impact upon me, affecting how I think, feel, and act. It has demonstrated the importance of making a difference and that no good deed, regardless of how seemingly small it may be, is unworthy. I will treasure this knowledge, which your book revealed to me, my entire life.


Evan Kotick