Members of the Tuohy family are speaking out after former NFL offensive lineman Michael Oher alleged that they earned millions from pushing a false narrative that they adopted him, the inspiration behind the 2009 Sandra Bullock film “The Blind Side.”
Oher, 37, petitioned a Tennessee judge on Monday saying that he had never been adopted by the family, and instead was under a conservatorship. He alleged in court documents that the family convinced him to sign documents agreeing to the conservatorship in 2004 by claiming it was “for all intents and purposes, an adoption.”
That signature allowed the Tuohys to “reap millions of dollars” off the 2009 film, he alleged, while he “received nothing.”
But Tuohy family patriarch Sean Tuohy — who was portrayed by Tim McGraw in the blockbuster hit — said Monday that Oher’s allegations aren’t true.
“We didn’t make any money off the movie,” he told the Daily Memphian. “Well, Michael Lewis [the author of the book that inspired the movie] gave us half of his share. Everybody in the family got an equal share, including Michael. It was about $14,000, each.”
Sean Tuohy said that he learned about Oher’s allegations when his friend sent him an article about it. The conservatorship in question, he said, had nothing to do with the movie but was meant to help Oher as he got recruited to play at Ole Miss, where Sean Tuohy had played football as well and was an active booster.
“They said the only way Michael could go to Ole Miss was if he was actually part of the family,” Tuohy said, adding that because Oher was 18 at the time, the conservatorship was a way to make that happen legally since he was too old to be legally adopted. “…We contacted lawyers who had told us that we couldn’t adopt over the age of 18; the only thing we could do was to have a conservatorship. We were so concerned it was on the up-and-up that we made sure the biological mother came to court.”
If Oher wants to end the conservatorship now, Tuohy said that he would “of course” be willing to end it. He also said that there has been a growing distance between Oher and the family over the past year and a half.
“We’re devastated. It’s upsetting to think we would make money off any of our children,” he told the local outlet. “But we’re going to love Michael at 37 just like we loved him at 16.”
His son, Sean Tuohy Jr., has also spoken out about the allegations, telling Barstool Sports on Monday, “I get why he’s mad.”
“I completely understand,” he said. “It stinks that it’ll play out in a very public stage.”
Oher’s petition says that he received no compensation for “The Blind Side,” which tells the story of how Oher went from an unstable home life and foster care to eventually being taken in by the Tuohys, who are depicted as providing him with a home, tutor and other needs that would pave the way for him to end up at their alma mater and eventually, the NFL.
Despite the movie being based on his life, Oher said it was only the Tuohys who received money for the film’s $300 million success.
“In these conservatorship abuse cases there’s a position of trust where one adult gives over this power to the other adult, believing that they have their best interests at heart, or not even understanding what they’re signing,” conservatorship expert Christopher Melcher said. “He was an adult at that time. There was no reason for him to have to surrender those rights.”
Khristopher J. Brooks contributed to this report.