Michael Oher, the former NFL offensive lineman and inspiration for the 2009 box office success “The Blind Side,” told a Tennessee judge on Monday that contrary to the film version of his life he was never adopted by the Tuohy family, and alleged that the family earned millions from the story.
Oher, now 37, has petitioned a Shelby County judge to revoke the conservatorship from the Tuohys, arguing that he’s old enough to handle his own business affairs. The Tuohys “have falsely and publicly represented themselves as the adoptive parents of Michael,” the petition claims.
In “The Blind Side,” Lee Anne Tuohy was portrayed by Sandra Bullock, while Sean Tuohy was played by Tim McGraw.
“Since at least August of 2004, Conservators have allowed Michael, specifically, and the public, generally, to believe that Conversators 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 alleges.
Oher claimed in court documents that Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy convinced him to sign conservatorship documents in 2004 by falsely telling him that the legal action was “for all intents and purposes, an adoption.” Court documents state that Oher signed the documents at 18 after being a foster child for years.
The conservatorship has allowed the Tuhoys to financially benefit from Oher’s image and likeness, he alleges in the petition, and “reap millions of dollars” off of the Oscar-nominated movie about Oher, while he “received nothing.”
Steve Farese, a lawyer for the Tuohys, told the Associated Press that they will file an answer to the allegations in court but he declined to comment further. He was among three attorneys who served on behalf of the Tuohys on Monday.
Oher was the 23rd overall pick in the 2009 draft out of the University of Mississippi. He played five seasons for the Baltimore Ravens then another eight NFL seasons, including 2014, when he started 11 games for the Tennessee Titans. Oher finished his career after two years with the Carolina Panthers.
Oher’s 14-page petition details his entering the foster care system at 11. During high school, Oher was homeless but lived with friends and classmates including Collins and Sean Tuohy — the sons of Sean and Leigh Anne.
“Almost immediately after Michael moved in, the Tuohys presented him with what he understood to be legal papers that were a necessary step in the adoption process,” the petition alleges. “Michael trusted the Tuohys and signed where they told him to sign.”
The petition also claims that Oher didn’t truly know what he had signed.
“Michael was falsely advised by the Tuohys that because he was over the age of eighteen, that the legal action to adopt Michael would have to be called ‘conservatorship’ but it was, for all intents and purposes, an adoption,” the petition claims.