Subject of 'The Blind Side' Says Adoption Was a Lie, Sues Family
Retired NFL star Michael Oher claims he was tricked into signing documents for a conservatorship
Published Aug 15, 2023Retired NFL star Michael Oher, whose purported adoption out of an impoverished upbringing by a wealthy, white family was the subject of John Lee Hancock's 2009 film The Blind Side, has alleged that his supposed adopted family used a conservatorship to enrich themselves at his expense.
Multiple outlets report that in a 14-page petition filed in Shelby County, TN, Oher alleges how Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy tricked him into signing a document making them his conservators, giving the couple legal authority to make business deals in his name.
"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," the petition reads in part [via ESPN]. "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."
The petition alleges that via the conservatorship, the Tuohys negotiated a deal with 20th Century Fox that paid them and their two birth children millions in royalties from The Blind Side, the film adaptation of the 2006 book of the same name by Michael Lewis that starred Sandra Bullock as Leigh Anne Tuohy, Tim McGraw as Sean Tuohy, and Quinton Aaron as Oher.
ESPN notes how the filing alleges the family received a contract price of $225,000 in addition to 2.5 percent of the film's net proceeds, while Oher was paid nothing for the rights to his name, likeness and life story — all central to a film that, according to the petition, grossed over $300 million USD at the box office.
Oher — who would go on to play eight seasons in the NFL, winning a Super Bowl in 2013 — previously shared thoughts on the film in his 2011 autobiography, I Beat The Odds: From Homelessness, to The Blind Side, and Beyond, writing of his portrayal onscreen, "I felt like it [the movie] portrayed me as dumb instead of as a kid who had never had consistent academic instruction and ended up thriving once he got it."
The athlete has also felt that because of The Blind Side, NFL decision-makers assumed he was mentally slow, or lacked leadership skills. As he told ESPN in a 2015 interview, "People look at me, and they take things away from me because of a movie. They don't really see the skills and the kind of player I am."
Reached for comment by The Daily Memphian, Sean Tuohy told the publication he was stunned by Oher's allegations, adding, "We're devastated. It's upsetting to think we would make money off any of our children. But we're going to love Michael at 37 just like we loved him at 16."