MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Court TV/AP) — The family who took in former NFL player Michael Oher had supplied screenshots of threatening text messages that Oher allegedly sent, demanding that they pay him $15 million to avoid going public with their financial dispute.
Oher, whose story inspired the 2009 film “The Blind Side,” said he was never legally adopted and 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 — deals that Oher said made the couple and their birth children millions in royalties from the 2009 Oscar-winning film that starred Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw.
The texts, supplied in a Dec 4. court filing obtained by Court TV, show a one-sided conversation of Oher’s alleged messages, where he calls the Thuohys “Thieves” writing that he ‘was robbed of 50 million+’ and threatening, ‘If something isn’t resolve [sic.] this Friday, I’m going to go ahead and tell the world, how I was robbed by my supposed to be parents. That’s the deadline.’
Other texts include:
- ‘Think how this will look when this comes out’
- ‘Call my lawyer if you want to negotiate’
- ‘Let me head over to social media’
- ‘It was 10 million now I want 15 after taxes’
In September, Shelby County Probate Judge Kathleen Gomes ended the conservatorship, which allowed the Tuohys to control Oher’s finances. Oher, who had a troubled childhood, signed the agreement when he was living with the couple as colleges were recruiting him as a star high school football player.
A lawyer for the couple, Randy Fishman, told a Memphis probate judge that mentions of Oher being adopted by Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy would be taken off advertising for public speaking engagements and the couple’s websites and public speaking materials as part of their legal battle over Oher’s finances.
Despite the termination of the conservatorship, the legal fight over money made from the film and Oher’s story continues. Oher claims the Tuohys have used his name, image and likeness to enrich themselves and kept him in the dark about financial dealings related to him and his story. Oher had previously asked that the judge bar the Tuohys from using his name, image and likeness to make money.
Oher attended the Wednesday probate court hearing where Fishman told the judge that the Tuohys were removing the adoption references. Oher did not speak during the hearing.
Gomes said removing the mentions of Oher being adopted by the couple is correct because he’s not adopted.
In Tennessee, a conservatorship removes power from a person to make decisions for themselves, and it is often used in the case of a medical condition or disability. But Oher’s conservatorship was approved by another judge “despite the fact that he was over 18 years old and had no diagnosed physical or psychological disabilities,” his petition said.
The Tuohys have called the claims they enriched themselves at his expense outlandish, hurtful and absurd and part of a “shakedown” by Oher.
In a court filing, the affluent couple said they loved Oher like a son and provided him with food, shelter, clothing, and cars while he lived with them, but they denied saying they intended to adopt him legally.
The Tuohys’ filing said Oher referred to them as “mom and dad,” and they occasionally referred to Oher as a son. They acknowledged that websites show them referring to Oher as an adopted son, but the term was only used “in the colloquial sense and they have never intended that reference to be viewed with legal implication.”
In a separate court filing, the Memphis couple said they received payments from the film’s proceeds from 20th Century Fox and gave Oher one-third of the money, which came out to $138,311. Oher has challenged that filing, arguing that it does not account for millions generated by public speaking events and alleging Sean Tuohy kept $2.5 million given to him by Oher to invest for him.
A trial date has not been set in the case,
Oher was the 23rd overall pick in the 2009 draft out of Mississippi, and he spent his first five seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, where he won a Super Bowl. He played 110 games over eight NFL seasons, including 2014, when he started 11 games for the Tennessee Titans. Oher finished his career with the Carolina Panthers.