Retired NFL star Michael Oher, whose life story was captured in John Lee Hancock’s 2009 film “The Blind Side,” is alleging that his seemingly adoptive parents forced him into a questionable conservatorship at age 18.
Oher, who began living with Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy while in high school in Tennessee, claims the Tuohy family never legally adopted him and instead had him enter a conservatorship less than three months after he turned 18 in 2004. The deal gives the Tuohys legal authority over his business deals, including using his name and likeness.
“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 states, per ESPN. “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.”
Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw portray the Tuohys in the Oscar-winning film. Quinton Aaron plays Oher in the movie, which won Bullock an Academy Award.
The real-life Tuohys allegedly constructed the movie deal to pay them and their two birth children substantial royalties as the film earned more than $300 million at the box office. The four Tuohy family members each made $225,000 plus 2.5 percent of “defined net proceeds” from the film; Oher received no profit from the feature. Oher is seeking his “fair share of profits” in addition to “unspecified compensatory and punitive damages,” according to the filing in probate court.
IndieWire has reached out to representatives for director Hancock, stars Bullock and Quinton Aaron, and production company Alcon Entertainment for additional comment.
The Tuohy family had a film deal with CAA, but Oher’s agent was listed as “close family friend” Debra Branan, an attorney who filed the 2004 conservatorship petition and is not a Hollywood agent. Oher later took contest with his depiction in the film, writing in his memoir “In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving” that “some NFL decision-makers assumed he was mentally slow, or lacked leadership skills and was unintelligent.”
In 2007, Oher allegedly signed a contract that gave away his life rights to the Tuohys “without any payment whatsoever.” Now, Oher is claiming he does not remember signing the contract, and if so, he was not clear on its meaning and repercussions.
Oher released his third book “When Your Back’s Against the Wall: Fame, Football, and Lessons Learned through a Lifetime of Adversity” recently, in which he writes, “There has been so much created from ‘The Blind Side’ that I am grateful for, which is why you might find it as a shock that the experience surrounding the story has also been a large source of some of my deepest hurt and pain over the past 14 years.”
“The Blind Side” actress Bullock told The New York Times during the Oscar campaign that the first week of filming was “the worst I ever had” on set due to the weighty material.
“I regretted having taken the film. Like, I shouldn’t have done this,” Bullock said of taking on Oher’s life story. “This is one of those moments that can sit in one hand with a couple of fingers that I left going, I have no idea what I did. I don’t know if it’s right. I don’t know if I gave what I needed to give, but I was spent by the time I left. And I did everything I could that I was able to do.”
Bullock still stayed in touch with Oher following the film’s release.