On Sept. 29, Michael Oher ‘s request for the termination of a conservatorship was granted. The former NFL star who inspired the Oscar-nominated film The Blind Side had originally filed legal documents in August requesting the termination after alleging Leigh Anne Tuohy and Sean Tuohy lied about adopting him and tricked him into making them his conservators shortly after he turned 18.
Oher, whose story was first documented in Michael Lewis’ 2006 bestselling book of the same name, claimed the Tuohys made millions off his name while he never received a dime, after the film — starring Sandra Bullock, Quinton Aaron, Jae Head, Tim McGraw, Lily Collins and Kathy Bates — earned more than $300 million at the box office. The book and film are centered around the Tuohy family taking in Oher and helping transform his life on and off the field.
The Tuohys have since responded to the accusations, calling Oher’s claims “insulting.” Now that one of the best feel-good stories of all-time is marred with accusations of impropriety, ET takes a look back at how we got here and what comes next.
GettySeptember 2006 — The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game hits bookstores
Michael Lewis — the author behind hits like Moneyball, The Big Short and many other bestselling books — teases the book on his personal website this way:
“When we first meet him, Michael Oher is one of thirteen children by a mother addicted to crack; he does not know his real name, his father, his birthday, or how to read and write. He takes up football, and school, after a rich, white, Evangelical family plucks him from the streets. Then two great forces alter Oher: the family’s love and the evolution of professional football into a game where the quarterback must be protected at any cost. Our protagonist becomes the priceless package of size, speed, and agility necessary to guard the quarterback’s greatest vulnerability, his blind side.”
By the time the book is published, Oher had earned freshman All-America honors as a standout offensive tackle with the Ed Orgeron-led Ole Miss football team. He’d go on to graduate with a degree in criminal justice before he was selected with the 23rd overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens in April 2009.
Oher, the Tuohys and his tutor — Miss Sue (portrayed in the film by Kathy Bates) — were with him onstage at the NFL Draft in New York City, where he held his No. 1 Ravens jersey. Oher, who made the Pro Football Writers Association All-Rookie team, would go on to win a Super Bowl ring after the Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers, 34-31, in Super Bowl XLVII. He started at right tackle. He’d also appear in Super Bowl 50 as a starting left tackle (covering “the blind side”) with the Carolina Panthers, who lost to the Denver Broncos, 24-10.
Oher played eight seasons in the NFL and reportedly earn nearly $40 million over his illustrious career.
Michael Oher with Leigh Anne Tuohy, her husband and their kids at the 2009 NFL Draft in New York City. – GettyNovember 2009 — The Blind Side hits theaters
The film, directed and written by John Lee Hancock, earned critical acclaim and earned two Academy Award nominations for Best Picture and Best Actress. Sandra Bullock scored the Best Actress win for her portrayal of Leigh Anne Tuohy. The film would go on to earn more than $300 million at the box office.
Interestingly enough, Bullock wasn’t the first actress in mind when the film was in the early stages of development. Leigh Anne reportedly said the part was written for one Julia Roberts, who ultimately had to back out of the role due to a scheduling conflict.
Bullock reportedly turned down the role but changed her mind after meeting with the Tuohys. Leigh Anne has previously spoken about how much work Bullock put into nailing the portrayal.
“I mean, she wore my same makeup, fingernail polish, my clothing,” Leigh Anne said in a 2020 interview. “She would go through my stuff. I was like, ‘Sandy, no one knows this, get over it.’ But she’s a perfectionist. When the movie was over the kids were like … ‘There’s two of them running around.’ She nailed it that much.”
Bullock also scored a Golden Globe and SAG Award for her portrayal of Leigh Anne.
GettyFebruary 2012 — Oher Publishes His Memoir
I Beat the Odds: From Homeless, to The Blind Side and Beyond hit bookstores in February 2012. In his memoir, Oher famously recounted how he did not like how he was portrayed in the film.
“While the movie did a great job of raising awareness about teens in foster care who might succeed if given a loving family and a chance, it did not do a good job of accurately painting my life,” he wrote. “Situations get exaggerated for the sake of Hollywood. I understood that when I heard a movie was being made, but it’s a strange process to live through: to suddenly lose control of your own story and to have your story written and nearly completed before you were approached for an interview.”
He added, “I felt like [The Blind Side] portrayed me as dumb instead of as a kid who had never had consistent academic instruction and ended up thriving once he got it. Quinton Aaron did a great job acting the part, but I could not figure out why the director chose to show me as someone who had to be taught the game of football. Whether it was S.J. moving around ketchup bottles or Leigh Anne explaining to me what blocking is about, I watched those scenes thinking, ‘No, that’s not me at all! I’ve been studying — really studying — the game since I was a kid!'”
Oher went on to say that The Blind Side “took away the hard work and dedication I had from a child,” like being the first one in, last one out in the locker room. He also disliked being portrayed as not knowing how to read, even though, he says, he was doing plays in front of the school in the second grade.
The cover of Michael Oher's memoir, 'I Beat the Odds.' – Penguin Random HouseNovember 2022 — Oher Marries College Sweetheart
Oher married Tiffany Roy after 17 years together. Oher shared a photo from their wedding on his Instagram, calling the affair the “best single weekend” he’s ever been a part of.
“Filled with joy, can’t believe people took their time and came to celebrate! My beautiful wife, I love you so much, thank you for blessing me with our family!” Oher wrote, alongside a photo of him and Roy at the altar. “Easily the best single weekend I’ve ever been apart of. Not being from the area everyone came to was even more special. I won’t be able to tell everyone thank you, if I saw you this weekend, thank you! I’m complete, let’s keep trending upward! ❤️❤️❤️.”
The couple’s four children were also in attendance — their son, MJ, daughters, Kierstin and Naivi — with Roy sharing that their son, Kobi, walked her down the aisle to Beyonce’s “Halo.”
August 2023 — Oher Files Lawsuit
In documents obtained by ET, the 37-year-old claims the Tuohys tricked him into making them his conservators less than three months after he turned 18 in 2004, allegedly telling him there was no consequential difference between being adopted and entering into a conservatorship, giving them legal authority to make business deals in his name.
Oher only learned in February that the documents he was asked to sign by the Tuohys, under the belief that it was part of the “adoption process,” were actually conservatorship papers that would strip away his legal rights, the petition says.
The 14-page petition, filed in Shelby County, Tennessee, probate court, alleges that the Tuohys used their power as conservators to negotiate a deal with 20th Century Fox that paid them and their biological children — Collins Tuohy and Sean Tuohy Jr. — millions of dollars in royalties from The Blind Side. The petition alleges that all four members of the Tuohy family were paid $225,000 for the film plus 2.5% of the film’s proceeds.
The conservatorship was granted until Oher reached the age of 25 or until the court terminated the order, but the arrangement was never terminated, Oher’s petition claims.
August 2023 — The Tuohys Respond
In an interview with the Daily Memphian, Sean Tuohy said the family is “devastated” by Oher’s claims.
“It’s upsetting to think we would make money off any of our children. But we’re going to love Michael at 37 just like we loved him at 16,” he added.
After initially claiming they didn’t make “any money” off the hit film, Sean said of The Blind Side, “Well, Michael Lewis (the author of the book The Blind Side) gave us half of his share. Everybody in the family got an equal share, including Michael. It was about $14,000 each.”
He insisted, “We were never offered money; we never asked for money. My money is well-documented; you can look up how much I sold my company for.”
Sean, who owned a chain of fast food restaurants, reportedly sold his franchises for a total of $213 million.
“The last thing I needed was 40 grand from a movie,” Sean maintained. “I will say it’s upsetting that people would think I would want to make money off any of my children.”
Roy Rochlin/Getty ImagesAugust 2023 — Oher Speaks Out on Lawsuit
Just days after filing his lawsuit, Oher publicly spoke out about the ordeal in a statement to ET.
“I am disheartened by the revelation shared in the lawsuit today,” Oher told ET through his rep. “This is a difficult situation for my family and me. I want to ask everyone to please respect our privacy at this time. For now, I will let the lawsuit speak for itself and will offer no further comment.”
August 2023 — ‘SJ’ Also Speaks Out
Speaking to Barstool Sports, Sean Tuohy Jr., who goes by SJ, addressed the situation saying he “knew it was coming” and that the lawsuit was “a matter of time.”
“I was surprised it happened the way it did,” Sean Jr. added, “but no one was caught off guard.”
August 2023 — Oher Allegedly Attempted $15 Million Shakedown Before Suit
In a statement to ET, the Tuohys’ family attorney, Marty Singer, claimed that Oher, prior to filing his petition in court, allegedly threatened the family that if they didn’t fork over an eight-figure check, he would plant a negative story about them in the press.
Furthermore, the Tuohys deny “tricking” Oher into a conservatorship, and any claims that they did so to go behind his back to score a lucrative movie deal is just not true.
“The notion that a couple worth hundreds of millions of dollars would connive to withhold a few thousand dollars in profit participation payments from anyone — let alone from someone they loved as a son — defies belief,” Singer told ET in a lengthy statement.
September 2023 — Michael Oher’s Conservatorship Is Officially Terminated
According to the Associated Press, a Tennessee judge terminated the legal arrangement on Sept. 29, but has not dismissed Oher’s lawsuit.
In her remarks, Judge Gomes was reportedly shocked that the conservatorship, which was arranged in 2004, was ever reached.
“I cannot believe it got done,” she said of the situation, noting that she has never seen a conservatorship reached with someone who was not disabled in her career spanning more than four decades.