According to reporting from ESPN, retired football player Michael Oher has alleged that the Tuohy family lied about his adoption in order to enrich themselves.
In a 14-page document sent to a Shelby County, Tennessee probate court Oher alleges the Tuohy family never actually adopted him after taking him into their home while he was still in high school. Oher alleges that shortly after he turned 18 years old, the couple-Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy-“tricked” him into giving them conservatorship over Oher and legal control over business deals made in his name.
The petition asks for the end of the Tuohys’ conservatorship over Tuohy and to issue an injunction preventing the family from using his name and likeness. Furthermore, Oher has asked for a full accounting of income made by the Tuohys using his name and to be paid his “fair share”.
Oher was the subject of the hit 2009 film “The Blind Side,” which told the story of the former NFL star’s struggle through poverty and adoption into the Tuohy family. The film proved to be a big hit, making $300 million at the box office and earning lead actress Sandra Bullock, who played Leigh Anne, an Oscar for Best Actress.
According to Oher though, the film is more fiction than fact, saying he was told by the Tuohy’s that the conservatorship was the same as being adopted, but laws were written in a way to account for his age. According to Oher’s petition he has not received any money from the film but did not look into the issue at the time as the movie's release coincided with the start of his NFL career with the Baltimore Ravens.
The Tuohy’s have said in the past that they themselves didn’t make much money from the film, being paid a flat fee that they shared with Oher. According to the petition, the Tuohys and their two children were each paid $225,000 and 2.5% of the film's net proceeds.
Following his retirement from the NFL in 2016, Oher hired a lawyer to look into the details of the movie rights. In February 2023, they uncovered the details of the conservatorship and it led to the current situation.
Oher has been vocal about his distaste for the film's depiction of him as being mentally slow, but was initially content to let it go because of the “inspirational message” of the film. According to his lawyer, J. Gerard Stranch IV, the film's portrayal was the start of Oher’s falling out with the family.
Oher was one of 12 children born to a mother who struggled with drug addiction, having been put in foster care when he was ten and having attended 11 different schools in nine years. Having to deal with a chaotic home life and occasional homelessness, Oher struggled academically but has never been diagnosed with a mental limitation that would qualify for a conservatorship.
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