Michael Oher, depicted in 'The Blind Side,' alleges he was never adopted by Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, but signed into a conservatorship | CNN (2024)

Michael Oher, depicted in 'The Blind Side,' alleges he was never adopted by Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, but signed into a conservatorship | CNN (1)

Michael Oher stands with his family during senior ceremonies prior to a game on November 28, 2008, in Oxford, Mississippi.


Former NFL player Michael Oher, whose life story was portrayed in the Oscar-winning movie “The Blind Side,” has filed a petition in a Tennessee court to end Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy’s conservatorship over him.

Oher claims the Tuohys told him they were going to adopt him, but instead filed a conservatorship that kept millions of dollars from him.

A lawyer for Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, Steve Farese, said they have no comment but will be issuing a statement Tuesday.

Sean Tuohy told the Daily Memphian that his family was 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,” Sean Tuohy said, according to a Daily Memphian story published Monday.

Oher’s petition to the court is asking for an order for the Tuohys “to show cause for failure to meet their required duties to provide regular accountings or to act in the best interest of their ward, Michael J. Oher.”

Oher became a ward of the state of Tennessee just before he turned 11 in 1996, and soon after began living on the streets.

A friend’s father helped get him into a school where he started playing football. He had to take buses and walk over an hour to school, according to the petition.

During the summer after his junior year, Oher started staying with Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy occasionally.

“Where other parents of Michael’s classmates saw Michael simply as a nice kid in need, Conservators Sean Tuohy and Leigh Anne Tuohy saw something else: a gullible young man whose athletic talent could be exploited for their own benefit,” the petition says.

A portrait of Britney Spears looms over supporters and media members outside a court hearing concerning the pop singer's conservatorship at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse, Wednesday, June 23, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello) Chris Pizzello/AP Conservatorships explained: What they are and who they're supposed to help

The Tuohys, “who took no legal action in Juvenile Court to assume legal custody of Michael” invited Oher to stay at their house more often and took him on shopping trips.

After Oher turned 18 but was still a student, in July 2004, the Tuohys offered for Michael to come live with them, the petition states. “The Tuohys did tell Michael they loved him and that they intended to legally adopt him. Michael believed them, was delighted to be part of a real family, and trusted Mr. and Mrs. Tuohy completely,” and called them “Mom” and “Dad” at their request, the petition states.

The petition says soon after he moved in, the Tuohys gave him legal papers he thought were necessary for the adoption.

“Michael trusted the Tuohys and signed where they told him to sign. What he signed, however, and unknown to Michael until after February 2023, were not adoption papers, or the equivalent of adoption papers,” the petition states. Instead, the papers appointed Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy his conservators. The conservatorship papers were filed by an attorney so close to the Tuohys that Oher was told to call her “aunt,” the petition states.

The papers requested that the conservators “have total control over Michael Oher’s ability to negotiate for or enter any contract, despite the fact he was over 18 years of age and had no diagnosed physical or psychological disabilities,” the petition states.

The petition says at no point did the Tuohys tell him they would have “ultimate control of all of his contracts” and Oher “was falsely advised by the Tuohys” that the “adoption” would have to be called a conservatorship since he was over 18, but was “for all intents and purposes, an adoption.”

The petition says “The Tuohys have falsely and publicly represented themselves as the adoptive parents of Michael, continuing to the date of the filing of this petition.”

Around September 2006, the Tuohys negotiated contracts for the movie “The Blind Side” based on the book based on Oher’s life story for themselves and their two other children through Creative Artists Agency to each to receive “$225,000 plus 2.5% of all future ‘Defined Net Proceeds’” contingent on Oher signing. The movie grossed more than $330 million, according to the petition.

MIAMI, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 02: Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates after defeating the San Francisco 49ers 31-20 in Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium on February 02, 2020 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Jamie Squire/Getty Images The NFL is confronting racism, but are Black quarterbacks continuing to be stereotyped?

Oher’s agent for the contract was listed as the attorney who filed his conservatorship.

Another contract from April 2007 exists that was “purportedly signed by Michael Oher” in which Oher gives away his name, likeness, voice, etc. to the movie studio “without any payment whatsoever,” the petition states.

Oher thinks the signature on the contract looks similar to his, but he is not sure if it was forged because he said “at no time ever willingly or knowingly” did he sign a document that explained he would be giving away rights to his name, image, etc.

The petition says “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.”

The petition is asking the Tuohys to provide a sworn accounting of the money belonging to Oher that should have been paid to him.

The story was first reported by ESPN.

CNN has also reached out to Michael Oher and his attorney but has not yet heard back.

In a statement released to WATN-TV, Oher said, “I am disheartened by the revelation shared in the lawsuit today. This is a difficult situation for my family and me. I want to ask everyone to please respect our privacy at this time. For now, I will let the lawsuit speak for itself and will offer no further comment.”

Parts of Oher’s life story was captured in the 2006 book “The Blind Side: Evolution of the Game” by Michael Lewis and the adapted movie of the same name in 2009.

Michael Oher #73 of the Carolina Panthers watches play against the Arizona Cardinals during the NFC Championship Game at Bank Of America Stadium on January 24, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Scott Cunningham/Getty Images Michael Oher, athlete who inspired 'The Blind Side,' marries longtime love

Sean Tuohy told the Daily Memphian that “we didn’t make any money off the movie.”

“Well, Michael Lewis gave us half his share. Everybody in the family got an equal share, including Michael. It was about $14,000 each,” Tuohy said, according to the Daily Memphian.

CNN reached out to representatives for Lewis for comment but has not heard back.

“It’s hard because you have to defend yourself, but whatever he wants, we’ll do,” Sean Tuohy said, according to the Daily Memphian. “We’re not in this for anything other than whatever he wants. If he’d have said, ‘I don’t want to be part of the family anymore,’ we’d have been very upset, but we absolutely would have done it.

“No question, the allegations are insulting, but, look, it’s a crazy world. You’ve got to live in it. It’s obviously upset everybody.”

As reported in the book, Oher was born into poverty in Memphis and, with his mother struggling with addiction, bounced around homes and schools for much of his childhood. He had a rare combination of size and athleticism and became a star offensive lineman for the football team at the private school Briarcrest, eventually earning a scholarship to attend the University of Mississippi, the Tuohys’ alma mater.

Oher started 47 consecutive games at Ole Miss and was named a consensus All-American in 2008.

The Baltimore Ravens selected Oher with the 23rd pick of the 1st round of the 2009 NFL Draft and the 6-foot-5, 309-pound lineman made an immediate impact, as he was named the runner-up in AP Offensive Rookie of the Year voting.

He played both left and right tackle in Baltimore for five seasons, helping them win a Super Bowl in 2013. Over his NFL career, he started 110 games over eight seasons with Baltimore, the Tennessee Titans and the Carolina Panthers.

Oher earned over $34 million during his NFL career, according to Spotrac, a website that tracks sports contracts.

Sandra Bullock won best actress for her performance of Leigh Anne Tuohy in the 2010 82nd annual Academy Awards.

CNN’s Amy Simonson contributed to this report.

Michael Oher, depicted in 'The Blind Side,' alleges he was never adopted by Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, but signed into a conservatorship | CNN (2024)


Michael Oher, depicted in 'The Blind Side,' alleges he was never adopted by Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, but signed into a conservatorship | CNN? ›

“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.”

How did Michael Oher find out that he wasn't adopted? ›

“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.”

When did Oher realize he wasn t adopted by the Tuohy family? ›

Oher eventually hired a lawyer who helped him uncover the details surrounding the movie deal and his legal connection to the people he believed were his adoptive parents. His lawyer unearthed the conservatorship document in February, and Oher came to the painful realization that the Tuohys had not adopted him.

Why would Michael Oher have a conservatorship? ›

“Remember, this conservatorship was set up for the purpose I indicated earlier, so that If he chose to go to Ole Miss, there would not be an issue about Sean being a booster,” Randall Fishman, another Tuohy family attorney, said at last week's news conference in Memphis. “That is the sole reason.

Did Michael Oher know he was in a conservatorship? ›

Michael Oher knew the Tuohy family were his "legal conservators" in 2011, despite claiming in legal docs that he just became aware this February ... and the proof is in the former NFL star's own book.

Why didn t the Tuohys adopt? ›

"... We contacted lawyers who had told us that we couldn't adopt over the age of 18; the only thing we could do was to have a conservatorship. We were so concerned it was on the up-and-up that we made sure the biological mother came to court."

Did the Tuohys say they adopted Michael? ›

Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy hit back at former NFL star Michael Oher in a new court filing Thursday, saying they never intended to adopt him and denied enriching themselves off his name. The Tuohys took in Oher, now 39, when he was in high school.

What is the lawsuit against Tuohy family? ›

In a motion to compel accounting, Oher's attorneys alleged "he has no knowledge of the income generated from the (the Tuohys) use of his name, likeness, and image" and that the Tuohy family has "falsely claiming that he is their adopted son as part of their marketing and business ventures."

Was Leigh Anne Tuohy in the blind side? ›

She was the guardian of the football player Michael Oher. Their story was featured in the 2006 book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game and its 2009 feature film adaptation The Blind Side. In the film, Tuohy was portrayed by Sandra Bullock, who won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for her performance.

Is Michael Oher suing the family in real life? ›

In his petition Monday, Oher alleged the Tuohy family deceived him of his legal family status and exploited his life for financial gain.

Did Michael Oher have a problem with the movie The Blind Side? ›

In a recent interview with Salon, Oher opened up about how 'The Blind Side' does not accurately depict the situation he was in at the time and explained what the film got wrong. "From the time I was three years old to 18, that's when the movie really started to portray my life," Oher said during the interview.

Did Michael Oher have any disabilities? ›

Oher, now 37, was placed into a conservatorship at 18 and had no physical or mental disabilities when the conservatorship was put in place, per the 2004 conservatorship order obtained by PEOPLE. “That's puzzling,” Stewart Crane, an attorney who has practiced conservatorship law in Tennessee for 35 years, tells PEOPLE.

How did Michael Oher not know he was in a conservatorship? ›

Oher alleges in the court filing that he only recently learned that Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, the White couple who offered the Black teenager a home when he didn't have a stable one, convinced him to sign papers he believed were part of an adoption process but in reality made the couple his conservators.

Why was Michael Oher unhappy with The Blind Side? ›

Oher has publicly said that the film negatively impacted his career. In 2015, he told ESPN that people make assumptions about him based on how he was poorly portrayed in the film. “People look at me, and they take things away from me because of a movie,” Oher said.

When did Michael Oher find out about his conservatorship? ›

“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,” according to the petition.

How much did the Tuohy family make from blind side? ›

All in all, it's believed the family earned under $1 million from the 2009 film based on Michael Lewis' 2006 bestseller of the same name, which centered around Michael Oher and the evolution of the integral role played by the left tackle, or "the blind side."

Did Michael Oher invite his adoptive family to his wedding? ›

The former professional football player, who spent a large portion of his youth in foster care, was accepted by the Tuohy family when he was 16 years old. He had a close relationship with the Tuohys up until recently. According to photographic proof, Oher didn't invite any members of the Tuohy family to his wedding.

How much is the Tuohy family worth? ›

Sean Tuohy and Leigh Anne Tuohy's combined net worth in 2023 is $100 million. The Tuohys are the couple featured in the Oscar Award-winning film “The Blind Side” that showed how they became the guardians of Michael Oher, who went on to become an NFL offensive lineman.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Manual Maggio

Last Updated:

Views: 6134

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (69 voted)

Reviews: 92% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Manual Maggio

Birthday: 1998-01-20

Address: 359 Kelvin Stream, Lake Eldonview, MT 33517-1242

Phone: +577037762465

Job: Product Hospitality Supervisor

Hobby: Gardening, Web surfing, Video gaming, Amateur radio, Flag Football, Reading, Table tennis

Introduction: My name is Manual Maggio, I am a thankful, tender, adventurous, delightful, fantastic, proud, graceful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.