The ex-NFL player and subject of the film “The Blind Side” alleges Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy never legally adopted him, but instead duped him into giving away the legal power to use his name in commercial transactions after he turned 18.
A 14-page petition filed in Shelby County, Tennessee, probate court says the Tuohys exploited their conservatorship to gain millions of dollars in royalties from the 2009 Warner Bros. film starring Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw.
“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,” according to the lawsuit complaint.
“Michael Oher discovered this lie to his chagrin and embarrassment in February 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 with no familial relationship with the Tuohys.”
Oher would have kept the ability to manage his own money as a member of the family if he had been officially adopted, but a conservatorship ceded that right to the Tuohys.
Michael Oher (center) with his family in 2008, during his time at Ole Miss.Images from Getty Images
The film, based on Michael Lewis’s book of the same name, depicts the tale of Oher, a poor child who made his way to the NFL with the support of the Tuohy family.
Bullock received several honors for her depiction of the Tuohy matriarch, and the film earned more than $300 million.
Oher, now 37, had an eight-year NFL career with the Ravens, Titans, and Panthers after an award-filled career at Ole Miss that earned him a first-round choice in the 2009 NFL Draft.
He seeks to terminate the Tuohys’ conservatorship and an order prohibiting them from exploiting his name and image, as well as an accounting of the money they allegedly received from his name already, a fair part of the earnings, and punitive penalties.
“Since at least August of 2004, Conservators have allowed Michael, specifically, and the general public to believe that Conservators adopted Michael, and have used that untruth to gain financial advantages for themselves and the foundations which they own or control,” the petition claims.
“All monies made in said manner should, in all conscience and equity, be disgorged and paid over to the said ward, Michael Oher.”
Oher has long been a detractor of the film, alleging it harmed his football career.
“People look at me, and they take things away from me because of a movie,” he said in 2015. “They don’t see my abilities or the type of player I am.” That’s why I keep being demoted because of anything off the field.
“This nonsense about me being a flop and whether or not I can play has nothing to do with football. Off the field, it’s something different. the is why I dislike the film.”