According to a court filing Monday, former NFL great Michael Oher, the subject of the book and film “The Blind Side,” claims that the couple who took him in as a teenager tricked him into believing they were adopting him — and instead placed him in a conservatorship. “The lie of Michael’s adoption is one upon which Co-Conservators Leigh Anne Tuohy and Sean Tuohy have enriched themselves at the expense of their Ward, the undersigned Michael Oher,” said the petition to terminate the conservatorship in Shelby County Court in Tennessee.
The tragedy of Oher and the Tuohy family inspired the Oscar-winning film “The Blind Side,” starring Sandra Bullock as Leigh Anne Tuohy. The film, based on Michael Lewis’s book of the same name, followed Oher from his childhood as a homeless youngster to his collegiate football career and eventual NFL glory.
According to the petition, the Tuohys negotiated a deal with 20th Century Fox that paid Oher nothing for the rights to his name, likeness, and life story, while the Tuohys received a contract price of $225,000 and 2.5% of the film’s net revenues.
The picture has made more than $300 million. A $200,000 donation was also given to the charitable foundation of Leigh Anne Tuohy. Oher made no money from the film, which was published after he finished college and would not have damaged his NCAA eligibility.
Here is a tweet about the NFL star Michael Oher’s story.
NFL star Michael Oher, whose story inspired ‘The Blind Side’ movie, says the Tuohy family lied about adopting him and tricked him into signing conservatorship papers when he was 18 to exploit him.
He has filed a legal petition to terminate the conservatorship. pic.twitter.com/N7l6R9nXPK
— Pop Base (@PopBase) August 14, 2023
Oher does not recall signing the agreement for the rights to his life narrative, according to the petition. The document bears his signature, but “nobody ever presented this document to him with any explanation,” according to the lawsuit. The petition accuses the Tuohys of a breach of their fiduciary duty as conservators “so gross and appalling that they should be sanctioned by this court.”
According to the complaint, Oher was a ward of the state of Tennessee by the age of 11 and was homeless as a child. Oher enrolled in Briarcrest Christian School in 2002, where he played basketball and football. Classmates’ families frequently let Oher, who fell through the cracks of a “broken social system,” remain in their houses.
“Whereas other parents of Michael’s classmates saw Michael simply as a nice kid in need, Conservators Sean Tuohy and Leigh Anne Tuohy saw something else: a gullible young man whose athletic talent could be exploited for their own benefit,” according to the petition.
Oher claims that the Tuohys offered him a place to reside with their family in their home the summer before his senior year, when he became a legal adult in July 2004. According to the petition, the pair stated that they would formally adopt him, and Oher trusted them.
Oher only discovered in February that documents the Tuohys had requested him to sign under the impression that they were part of the “adoption process” were actually conservatorship papers that would take him of his legal rights. The Tuohys informed him that because he was no longer a kid, the adoption document was named a conservatorship.
“At no point did the Tuohys inform Michael that they would have ultimate control of all his contracts, and as a result Michael did not understand that if the Conservatorship was granted, he was signing away his right to contract for himself,” the petition said.
The conservatorship was given until Oher turned 25 or until the court terminated the order, but the arrangement was never dissolved, according to Oher’s petition. Oher’s suit also requests that the court issue an injunction prohibiting the Tuohys from utilizing his name and likeness.
A phone call to Sean Tuohy was not immediately returned Monday, but he told the Daily Memphian that he was “devastated” by Oher’s allegations and said the family did not “make any money” off “The Blind Side” film.
“It’s upsetting to think we would make money off any of our children,” he said. “But we’re going to love Michael at 37 just like we loved him at 16.” Sean Tuohy did say that “The Blind Side” book author Michael Lewis “gave us half of his share,” but he maintained that “everybody in the family got an equal share, including Michael. It was about $14,000, each.”
Sean Tuohy also stated that the conservatorship would assist protect Oher’s eligibility to play collegiate football, claiming that lawyers warned the family that they “couldn’t adopt over the age of 18” and that “the only thing we could do was have a conservatorship.”
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He stated that if Oher desired, he would have been willing to end the conservatorship. “If he’d said, ‘I don’t want to be a part of the family anymore,’ we’d have been very upset, but we absolutely would have done it,” he added. The Tuohys’ attorney declined to comment. Former Creative Artists Agency reps for the Tuohys stated that they had not worked with the family since 2007.
Sean Tuohy Jr., known as SJ, told Barstool Sports that he believes the issues between Oher and the Tuohy family built over time. He alleged that Oher asked for money from the family around 2021.
He also stated that he will never speak negatively about Oher. “I get it, why he’s mad, I understand,” SJ Tuohy said. “It stinks that it will play out on the public stage. … That part sucks, but oh well.”
SJ Tuohy also stated that he was unaware of the specifics of the movie contract, but that his father gave him a check a few years after the film was released. He went on to say that he didn’t know why his parents chose conservatorship over adoption, but he guessed it was due to Oher’s age.
“There is no money held anywhere… “No power of attorney is still in effect,” he stated. “I was accusatory of my parents to some extent like I want to make sure I’m not defending the wrong side of this.” Follow us on our website The Current Online for more recent updates.