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NFL Player Who Inspired 'The Blind Side' Claims Family Lied About Adopting Him To Make Millions

Retired NFL player Michael Oher, who inspired the critically-acclaimed film 'The Blind Side,' claims the Tuohy family never actually adopted him—but tricked him into a conservatorship to make money off his story.

Michael Oher
Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Michael Oher, the former NFL player fictionalized in the Academy Award-winning movie The Blind Side, has made an assertion that a crucial element of his story was fabricated—and the lie allegedly generated millions for the Tuohy family.

According to a report by ESPN, Oher submitted a legal petition to a Tennessee probate court contending that Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy did not officially adopt him.

The petition maintains that when he reached the age of 18, the Tuohys misled him into granting them conservatorship rights, which allowed them to engage in business transactions under his name.

According to Oher's attorney, the conservatorship, discovered in February 2023, disclosed that formal adoption never transpired.

As stated by ESPN, the petition asserts that the Tuohys exploited their authority as conservators to negotiate an agreement that reaped them and their offspring, Collins and SJ Tuohy, substantial royalties from an Oscar-winning film, amounting to millions of dollars.

In contrast, Oher allegedly received no compensation for a narrative "that would not have existed without him."

The movie The Blind Side, directed and scripted by John Lee Hancock, draws inspiration from the book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game.

It chronicles Michael Oher's journey from being embraced by Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy to ascending as a first-round NFL draft selection in 2009.

The film was met with acclaim, earning two Academy Award nominations including Best Picture in 2010. Sandra Bullock clinched an Oscar, Golden Globe, and SAG Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Leigh Anne Tuohy in the movie.

As per the legal submission, the Tuohys and their offspring each received $225,000, coupled with 2.5% of the movie's "defined net proceeds."

The film garnered over $300 million worldwide at the box office, with further earnings after its theatrical release.

The petition also alleges the existence of a separate contract from 2007 that appears to relinquish the life rights of Oher's story to 20th Century Fox Studios "without any payment whatsoever."

Oher purportedly has no recollection of signing this contract, and its ramifications were not made clear to him, according to ESPN's report.

Earlier, the Tuohys contended that their financial gains from the film were modest, asserting they received a "flat fee" for their narrative.

In their book In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving, Leigh Anne and Sean wrote that they "divided" the earnings "five ways."

Despite the triumph of The Blind Side, the Tuohys have consistently referred to Oher as their adopted son and have exploited this fact to bolster their foundation, "Making It Happen," which aids underprivileged youth, in addition to Leigh Anne's pursuits as an author and speaker.

The legal submission asserts:

"The falsehood of Michael's adoption is one that Co-Conservators Leigh Anne Tuohy and Sean Tuohy have used to enrich themselves at the cost of their Ward, the undersigned Michael Oher."

The petition continues:

"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."

Oher's petition asks the court to dissolve the Tuohys' conservatorship and impose an injunction against further use of his name and likeness.

It further demands an accounting of the income earned by the Tuohys through his name and story, and seeks to compel the couple to provide him with his due share of the profits.

In his recent book When Your Back's Against the Wall, Oher reflects:

"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."

"Beyond the details of the deal, the politics, and the money behind the book and movie, it was the principle of the choices some people made that cut me the deepest."

Many people are shocked at the dark twist this story has taken.

Others have been wondering if there was more than met the eye.

We all hope the truth will prevail.