Retired NFL player Michael Oher was not adopted by a rich white family as depicted in the 2009 movie “The Blind Side,” according to a Tennessee court filing obtained by ESPN Monday. Instead, they allegedly manipulated him to become more wealthy at his expense.
The petition was reportedly filed in Shelby County, Tennessee, probate court. In it, Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy are accused of taking Oher into their home as a high school student under a conservatorship they tricked him into, which granted them legal authority to make business deals on his behalf.
The Tuohys are also accused of using that power to negotiate a deal that made them, including their two birth children, millions of dollars in royalties from the Oscar-winning film. They began negotiating a movie deal about their relationship with Oher shortly after the 2006 release of the book “Blind Side: Evolution of the Game,” according to the filing.
Members of the family were each allegedly paid $225,000, plus 2.5% of the film’s “defined net proceeds.” The film earned more than $300 million — with none of those funds going to Oher, according to the report.
Since then, the family has also used the story to promote their foundation while Leigh Anne Tuohy continues to refer to Oher as her adopted son in her work as an author and motivational speaker.
Oher, 37, is reportedly asking the court to end the Tuohy family’s conservatorship, stop them from using his name and likeness and provide a full account of the Tuohys’ earnings from using Oher’s name. In addition to unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, he is also reportedly seeking a “fair” share of profits.
He was entering his senior year of high school when he signed the papers hoping to join the family he thought cared for him, an experienced he detailed in his 2011 best-selling memoir “I Beat the Odds.”
“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,” he wrote.
Oher reportedly continued his life under that impression until he retired from the NFL in 2016. The offensive tackle was drafted with the Baltimore Ravens’ No. 23 overall pick of the 2009 draft after a standout career at Ole Miss.
“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.”
This story will be updated.