Back in 2009, we were all incredibly moved by the release of the movie The Blind Side, starring Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw documenting the story of how the Tuohy family took in near homeless teenager Michael Oher, made him one of their own, and turned him into a football star that ultimately led him to Ole Miss, and then the NFL.
It’s a story that many of us cherish to this day.
However, we are now learning that a good bit of it could’ve been a lie, and there has reportedly been corruption between the Tuohy family and Oher ever since the movie’s release.
According to ESPN,Oher petitioned a Tennessee court alleging that a main part of the movie’s story was a lie created by the Tuohy family to enrich themselves at his expense.
The 14-page petition was filed in Shelby County, alleging that Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, the parents who took him into their home when he was in high school, never adopted him, contrary to popular belief.
The petition states that after he turned 18 back in 2004, the couple tricked him into signing a document that made them his conservators, which gave them legal authority to make money off his name.
The petition also notes that the family used their power as conservators to make a deal that give them and their birth children millions of dollars in royalties from The Blind Side, which earned more than $300 million.
Ever since, Sean and Leigh Anne have continued to call Oher, who is now retired from the NFL, their adopted son, and have continued to make money off his story, while he has received nothing. It also states that they have used his name to promote their foundation, along with Leigh Anne’s work as an author and motivational speaker.
The legal filings state:
“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.
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 37-year-old Oher’s petition also asks the court to end the family’s conservatorship, keeping them from continuing to make money off his name, image, and likeness.
The petition continues:
“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.
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, and he has written that the Tuohys stated there was no difference between adoption and conservatorship.
However, the difference is that if he was adopted, he would legally be apart of the family and be able to make money off his name image and likeness.
The legal filings state that the movie paid the Tuohys and their two birth children $225,000 off the bat, along with 2.5% of the movie’s “defined net proceeds,” with Oher not making anything.
But, the Tuohys have claimed that they haven’t made much money off the movie, and that the earnings were split five ways between Sean and Leigh Anne, their two birth children, and Oher.
Oher’s lawyer, J. Gerard Stranch IV, said that Oher’s relationship with the Tuohys began to deteriorate after the movie, stating:
“Mike didn’t grow up with a stable family life. When the Tuohy family told Mike they loved him and wanted to adopt him, it filled a void that had been with him his entire life. Discovering that he wasn’t actually adopted devastated Mike and wounded him deeply.
Mike’s relationship with the Tuohy family started to decline when he discovered that he was portrayed in the movie as unintelligent. Their relationship continued to deteriorate as he learned that he was the only member of the family not receiving royalty checks from the movie, and it was permanently fractured when he realized he wasn’t adopted and a part of the family.”
Needless to say, this is much different than the heartwarming story that was depicted back in 2009.
Michael Oher alleges that a “central element” of 'The Blindside' was a lie and Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy never adopted him, per @Fletchpost
Oher says the Tuohy family struck a deal that paid them & their two children millions in royalties from the film while he received nothing pic.twitter.com/6mWrXxKdFQ
If you haven’t seen the movie, it was quite the box office smash.
Bullock’s performance earned her tan Oscar for Best Actress., as well as a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama, and the SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role.
The movie was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.