Michael Oher, a former NFL star known for inspiring the film “The Blind Side,” has filed a petition in a Tennessee court with claims that the family who took him in lied about an important part of his life story.
Oher says the family used him for money, causing controversy around the once-celebrated story of triumph.
The retired football star filed a petition in Shelby County, Tennessee, noting that the Tuohy family, who were portrayed as his adoptive parents in the film, never legally adopted him.
Instead, they manipulated him into signing documents that made them his conservators after he turned 18.
These conservatorship papers allowed them to make financial decisions on his behalf.
Oher’s legal filing claims that the Tuohys used their authority as his conservators to make a profitable deal for the film adaptation of his story.
The movie earned over $300 million and won an Oscar for Sandra Bullock’s portrayal of Leigh Anne Tuohy.
According to reporting by ESPN, the Tuohys allegedly received substantial royalties, while Oher received nothing despite being the central figure in the narrative.
Documents filed in court alleged that the movie paid the Tuohys and their two birth children each $225,000, plus 2.5% of the film’s “defined net proceeds.”
Oher, whose eight-year career included playing for the Baltimore Ravens, Carolina Panthers, and Tennessee Titans, didn’t receive compensation.
The court filing suggested that the Tuohys continued to promote the false narrative of Oher’s adoption, using it to their advantage for personal gain.
Oher’s lawyer, J. Gerard Stranch IV, said Oher discovered the truth in 2023, causing deep emotional distress.
The revelation shattered Oher’s belief in the family’s claim to be his adoptive parents, the attorney claimed.
Oher’s legal filing seeks to terminate the conservatorship held by the Tuohys and prevent them from exploiting his name and likeness.
The petition also demands a full accounting of the profits generated using Oher’s story and compensation for Oher’s rightful share of these earnings.
Born into a family grappling with drug addiction, Oher faced hardships, including foster care placements and homelessness.
His trajectory changed when he was taken in by the Tuohy family, which provided stability and support.
ESPN noted that Oher’s athletic talents thrived, propelling him to a successful college and NFL career.
However, the court filing highlighted that if Oher had been legally adopted, he would have retained control over his financial matters. Tellingly, the conservatorship arrangement stripped him of this autonomy, which became instrumental in the family’s alleged financial exploitation.
Further, the Tuohys had previously claimed they received only a flat fee for the movie and shared what they earned with Oher.
But recent revelations counter these assertions.
“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,” Oher’s lawyers wrote.
“Michael Oher discovered this lie to his chagrin and embarrassment in February of 2023, when he learned that the Conservatorship to which he consented on the basis that doing so would make him a member of the Tuohy family, in fact provided him no familial relationship with the Tuohys.”