Michael Oher Claims 'Blind Side' Family Made Millions Off Adoption Lie
By Jason Hall
August 14, 2023
Former NFL offensive lineman Michael Oher, the subject of the 2009 film The Blind Side, claims that the story of a wealthy, white family adopting him was a lie concocted to enrich themselves at his expense.
Oher filed a 14-page petition in Shelby County, Tennessee, probate court alleging that Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, who took him into their home while he was in high school, had never actually adopted him and, instead, tricked him into signing a document to make themselves his conservators, granting them legal authority to make business deals in his name, three months after he turned 18, ESPN reports.
Oher accuses the Tuohys of using their power as conservators to land deals in which their family -- including their two birth children -- earned millions in royalties from the Academy Award-winning film -- which grossed more than $300 million -- while he received zero compensation for movie "that would have not existed without him." The Tuoyhs continued to call the 37-year-old their adopted son publicly, which included promoting their foundation, as well as Leigh Anne Tuohy's work as both an author and motivational speaker in the years after the popular film's release.
"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 legal filing states 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."
Oher's petition asks the court to end the Tuohys' conservatorship and prohibit them from further capitalizing off his name and likeness, while also seeking the full share of profits he would have otherwise received, as well as unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
"Since at least August of 2004, Conservators have allowed Michael, specifically, and the public, generally, to believe that Conservators adopted Michael and have used that untruth to gain financial advantages for themselves and the foundations which they own or which they exercise control," the petition states. "All monies made in said manner should in all conscience and equity be disgorged and paid over to the said ward, Michael Oher."
Oher was a rising high school senior when he signed the conservatorship papers, which he claims the Tuohys specifically told him was no different from adoption papers at the time.
"They explained to me that it means pretty much the exact same thing as 'adoptive parents', but that the laws were just written in a way that took my age into account," Oher previously wrote in his 2011 memoir 'I Beat the Odds.'
Oher, a four-star high school prospect, committed to Ole Miss in 2005, which launched an NCAA investigation given the Tuohys' ties to the university as both alumni and donors. The Memphis native was selected by the Baltimore Ravens at No. 23 overall in the 2009 NFL Draft and spent his first five seasons with the franchise, which included winning Super Bowl XLVII.
Oher spent the 2014 season with the Tennessee Titans and the 2015 and 2016 seasons with the Carolina Panthers prior to his retirement.