Michael Oher says ‘The Blind Side’ family never officially adopted him

Posted at 5:02 PM, August 14, 2023 and last updated 8:45 AM, August 16, 2023


The former NFL player whose story inspired the 2009 film “The Blind Side” says he was never officially adopted. Michael Oher told ESPN that Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy tricked him into signing a legal document that made them his conservators, which gave them the right to make business deals in his name after his 18th birthday.

Former NFL player Michael Oher.

FILE – Carolina Panthers’ Michael Oher speaks to the media during the first day of their NFL football offseason conditioning program in Charlotte, N.C., April 20, 2015. Oher, the former NFL tackle known for the movie “The Blind Side,” filed a petition Monday, Aug. 14, 2023, in a Tennessee probate court accusing Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy of lying to him by having him sign papers making them his conservators rather than his adoptive parents nearly two decades ago.(AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)

In a 14-page petition filed in Shelby County, Tennessee, Oher alleges the Tuohys used their conservatorship to make themselves and their birth children millions in royalties from the 2009 Oscar-winning film that starred Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw. In the movie, Oher is adopted by the Tuohys, but the ex-NFL player maintains that while the family took him into their Memphis-area home as a high schooler, a formal adoption never took place.

Oher says he never received any money in return for a story “that would not have existed without him.” He says the Tuohys continue to refer to him as their adopted son, and use his name to promote the family’s foundation as well as Leigh Anne’s speaking engagements.

In his petition, Oher has requested that the court end the conservatorship and bar the Tuohys from using his name and likeness. Oher is also seeking a full accounting of the money the family earned using his name, and for his fair share of profits, in addition to unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

According to the legal filing, Oher learned in February 2023 that the Tuohys are still his conservators. Oher signed the conservatorship papers in 2004. At the time, he was a legal adult about to enter his senior year of high school. Oher said that the Tuohys told him adoption and conservatorship were essentially the same thing.

The legal filing also states that while the Tuohys and their birth children each received $225,000 for “The Blind Side” film, plus 2.5% of the film’s “defined net proceeds,” Oher purportedly signed a contract giving away the rights to his life story to 20th Century Fox Studios. The ex-NFLer maintains he has no recollection of signing it, and if he had, it was never explained to him.

Oher, now 37, played for Ole Miss before signing with the Baltimore Ravens in 2009. He also played for the Tennessee Titans and Carolina Panthers before retiring from the NFL in 2016.