Retired NFL star Michael Oher, whose supposed adoption out of poverty by a wealthy white family was immortalized in the 2009 movie The Blind Side, has lodged a 14-page petition in a Tennessee court. The petition alleges that a central element of the narrative was a falsehood concocted by the family to enrich itself at his expense, as reported by ESPN.
The petition, filed in Shelby County Probate Court, claims that Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, who took Oher into their home during high school, never formally adopted him. Instead, they obtained legal authority over his business deals through a conservatorship.
According to the filing, the Tuohys leveraged their conservatorship powers to secure a lucrative deal that yielded millions in royalties from the Oscar-winning movie adaptation of Oher’s life. Meanwhile, Oher received no compensation for a narrative that, the petition claims, revolved around him. Oher’s attorney, J. Gerard Stranch IV, stated that Oher discovered the truth in February of 2023, causing him significant distress.
Sports business reporter Darren Rovell dissected the implications of this petition on Twitter. The Blind Side, with a $30 million budget, raked in $300 million at the box office, resulting in an estimated profit of $175 million. The Tuohy family’s children reportedly earned substantial amounts, receiving $225,000 each plus 2.5% of net proceeds, totaling approximately $4.6 million per person. Sandra Bullock, who portrayed Leigh Anne Tuohy, was paid $5 million for her role.
The petition aims to end the Tuohys’ conservatorship, prevent the use of Oher’s name and likeness, demand a full financial audit, and secure proper compensation. It alleges that the Tuohys exploited the falsehood of Oher’s adoption to their financial gain.
The Tuohy family’s attorney, Steve Farese, has indicated that they plan to respond legally in the upcoming weeks. Sean Tuohy expressed surprise and dismay at the allegations, asserting that they did not profit significantly from the movie and shared the earnings they did receive.
Oher’s story, as portrayed in The Blind Side, depicted his journey from poverty and instability to success in football and beyond, with the Tuohys playing a prominent role. The legal dispute raises questions about the accuracy of the portrayal of Oher’s life in the movie and book and sheds light on the financial dynamics that may have existed behind the scenes.