MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Lawyers for a prominent Memphis couple planned to speak with reporters Wednesday about former NFL player Michael Oher’s effort to take control of his finances in a now-public dispute involving those who inspired the Oscar-nominated movie “The Blind Side.”
Attorneys for Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy scheduled a news conference to discuss Oher’s accusations that they enriched themselves at his expense. Oher moved in with the Tuohys before his senior year of high school, a story that led to a movie that received an Academy Award nomination for best picture in 2010.
The Tuohys have called the allegations ridiculous and part of a shakedown attempt.
Oher filed a petition Monday in a Tennessee probate court accusing the Tuohys of lying to him by having him sign papers making them his conservators rather than his adoptive parents nearly two decades ago.
Oher, now 37, wants a full accounting of assets considering his life story produced millions of dollars, though he says he received nothing from the movie. He accuses the Tuohys of falsely representing themselves as his adoptive parents.
In a statement released by their lawyers Tuesday, the Tuohys said Oher’s accusations were absurd. They said Oher had threatened before the court filing to plant a negative news story about them unless they paid him $15 million, calling it a “shakedown.”
The conservatorship paperwork was filed months after Oher turned 18 in May 2004. Oher accuses the Tuohys of never taking legal action to assume custody from the Tennessee Department of Human Services before he turned 18, though he was told to call them “Mom” and “Dad.”
Oher alleges the Tuohys had him sign paperwork almost immediately after he moved in as part of the adoption process. Oher says he was “falsely advised” that it would be called a conservatorship because he was already 18, but that adoption was the intent. Oher said that he discovered in February 2023 that the conservatorship was not the arrangement he thought it was — and that it provided him no familial relationship to the Tuohys.
Oher later attended Sean Tuohy’s alma mater, Mississippi.
Oher, who has never been a fan of the movie about his life, asks that the Tuohys be sanctioned and required by the probate court to pay damages. He asks to be paid what he is due, along with interest.
The Tuohys’ statement says the idea that they sought to profit off Oher is ridiculous. The statement said that they are worth “hundreds of millions of dollars” and would not have sought to withhold money from Oher.
“They have consistently treated him like a son and one of their three children,” the statement said.
The Tuohys’ statement says agents negotiated a small advance for them from the production company for “The Blind Side,” based on a book written by Sean Tuohy’s friend Michael Lewis. That included “a tiny percentage of net profits” divided equally among a group that included Oher.
Martin Singer, an attorney for the Tuohys, said that profit participation checks and studio accounting statements support their account. The movie won Sandra Bullock an Oscar for her portrayal of Leigh Anne Tuohy.
When Oher refused to cash the checks, the statement says the Tuohys deposited Oher’s share into a trust account.
The Tuohys said that they set up the conservatorship to help Oher with health insurance, a driver’s license and being admitted to college. The statement says the Tuohys will not oppose Oher’s wish to end their conservatorship.
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 two years in Carolina.
He last played in 2016 and was released in 2017 by Carolina.
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