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Michael Oher Reuters banner.JPG
Michael Oher Reuters.JPG
USA News

NFL star of Blindside story to sue Christian ‘adoptive’ parents

by Heather Preston

A former NFL player and the inspiration behind Oscar-winning film Blindside has claimed the story is built on lies.

Michael Oher has filed legal action against the Christian family who took him in, alleging he was tricked into signing away the rights of his life story.

In the Hollywood blockbuster, homeless Michael Oher is taken in by a wealthy Christian couple and goes on to become a successful college athlete. However, in a recent legal filing, Oher alleges that he was never actually adopted (as was widely believed), but instead manipulated into a conservatorship. A conservatorship is a US court order to appoint someone to make decisions related to finance, healthcare and other significant areas on another person’s behalf – due to age or incapacity.

The retired American footballer has accused Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy of making millions of dollars in profit from his story and alleges he was only recently made aware the Touhys did not legally adopt him. A petition was filed against the Tennessee family on Monday, calling for the conservatorship agreement to be terminated and for compensation based on the profits made from his name by the family. The Tuohy’s have denied the allegations, calling them “hurtful” and “insulting,” according to reports from the Daily Memphian. Sean Tuohy says the agreement was drawn up to ensure Oher was eligible to play football at the University of Mississippi. He denies the family have financially profited from the movie aside from a share in book proceeds upon which the film was based.

"We're devastated," Tuohy told the outlet. "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."

The legal papers allege Oher was conned into a conservatorship when he was 18 years old.

"The conservatorship to which he consented on the basis that doing so would make him a member of the Tuohy family, in fact provided him no familial relationship," the petition reads.

"At no point did the Tuohys inform Michael that they would have ultimate control of all his contracts, and as a result Michael did not understand that if the conservatorship was granted, he was signing away his right to contract for himself."

The legal filing claims the couple lied about the meaning of a conservatorship, saying it is like adoption for those over the age of 18. Oher alleges he received no proceeds from the motion picture or from the rights to his life story while the Tuohy’s had a movie deal for $225,000 plus 2.5 per cent of future proceeds for his story. According to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), The Blind Side made more than $300m (£236m) worldwide.

The former NFL tackle played for eight seasons primarily with the Baltimore Ravens, earning a total of $34.5m according to Spotrac. 


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