In 2009, The Blind Side became a massive hit, grossing more than $300 million at the box office as Sandra Bullock earned an Oscar for her portrayal of Leigh Anne Tuohy. The Tuohy’s were the family that adopted Michael Oher as a senior in high school, helping him get his education and football career on track before becoming a star at Ole Miss and becoming a first round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. At least, that’s how the movie version of events goes.
Oher is now alleging the Tuohys used him and never actually adopted him, instead tricking him into signing a document to make Sean and Leigh Anne his co-conservators rather than his adopted parents, giving them the rights to make business deals in his name — including selling his story to make The Blind Side. In a 14-page petition filed in Tennessee court on Monday, obtained by ESPN’s Michael A. Fletcher, Oher and his attorney lay out the rather shocking details of how the Tuohys represented to both Oher and the public that they had adopted him, when in fact he had no legal familial relationship to them.
“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 says. “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.”
“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 says. “All monies made in said manner should in all conscience and equity be disgorged and paid over to the said ward, Michael Oher.”
Fletcher reports that the filing asserts the Tuohys and their two biological children made $900,000 total up front from The Blind Side, plus 2.5 percent of the net proceeds from the film. Oher, meanwhile, was given a separate contract — that he has no recollection of signing — that gave away his rights to 20th Century Fox Studios.
It is a bombshell filing that, if proven true, will hopefully see Oher get his rightful proceeds from the film, but what can’t be undone is the emotional distress of learning that the family you though adopted you and loved you had, instead, been using you to profit off of your journey and, in fact, you had no legal standing as a member of the family.