Ex-NFL player Michael Oher, inspiration of ‘The Blind Side,’ says he was never adopted by family


Former NFL player Michael Oher, the inspiration behind the 2009 Academy Award-winning film, “The Blind Side,” alleged in a petition filed in a Tennessee court on Monday that he was never legally adopted by the family, but rather tricked into a conservatorship that solely benefited the Tuohy family.

The filing reveals that Oher discovered he was never legally adopted by Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy in February 2023 and alleges that he was tricked into entering a conservatorship after his 18th birthday.

“The lie of Michael’s adoption is one upon which Co-Conservators Leigh Anne Tuohy and Sean Tuohy have enriched themselves at the expense of their Ward, the undersigned Michael Oher,” the document read.

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“Michael Oher discovered this lie to his chagrin and embarrassment in February of 2023, when he learned that 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 with the Tuohy’s.”

Michael Oher with his family

Michael Oher of the Ole Miss Rebels stands with his family during senior ceremonies prior to a game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Nov. 28, 2008, in Oxford, Mississippi. (Matthew Sharpe/Getty Images)

According to the petition, the Tennessee Department of Human Services took custody of Oher in 1996. His attorneys claim that he was left to “live on the streets” because of a “broken social system.” 

In just nine years, he had attended 11 schools and repeated two grades. But through the help of his friend’s father, Tony Henderson, Oher was introduced to Briarcrest Christian School where he “excelled” from the beginning. 

Oher stayed with classmates and at the home of family friends, and “occasionally” with the Tuohy’s, the document alleged. In 2004, the family then invited him to live with them. 

“At no time prior to this invitation during Michael’s minority did the Tuohy’s take any legal action to assume custody of Michael from DHS through appropriate channels, nor did they seek to become Michael’s guardian while he was a minor,” the petition read. 

“Despite this inaction, the Tuohy’s did tell Michael they loved him and that they intended to legally adopt him. Michael believed them, was delighted to be part of a real and stable family, and trusted Mr. and Mrs. Tuohy completely.”

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The filing alleges that soon after moving in, the family presented Oher with the conservatorship, which he understood as a form of legal adoption. 

Michael Oher plays for the Ravens

Offensive lineman Michael Oher of the Baltimore Ravens during the Steelers at Heinz Field on Dec. 27, 2009, in Pittsburgh. (George Gojkovich/Getty Images)

“At no point did the Tuohy’s 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. Michael was falsely advised by the Tuohy’s that because he was over the age of eighteen, that the legal action to adopt Michael would have to be called a ‘conservatorship’ but it was, for all intents and purposes, an adoption.” 

A representative listed on Leigh Anne Tuohy’s website did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.  

The petition also alleged that while the Tuohys benefited significantly from the movie, Oher did not. 

The family allegedly negotiated a deal that paid them each, including the Tuohys’ two birth children, a significant amount plus a percentage in royalties for the film which grossed $330 million. The filing also alleges that another contract purportedly signed by Oher in 2007, signed away his rights to his story “without any payment whatsoever.”  

Michael Oher drafted into the NFL

Baltimore Ravens draft pick Michael Oher poses with his family at Radio City Music Hall during the NFL Draft on April 25, 2009, in New York City. (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Debra Branan was listed as the attorney who filed the 2004 conservatorship petition. She did not immediately return Fox News Digital’s request for comment. She was also listed as his agent for “The Blind Side” deal. 

Oher’s attorney J. Gerard Stranch IV told ESPN that his client was “devastated” when he discovered the true nature of the conservatorship. 

“Mike didn’t grow up with a stable family life,” he said. “When the Tuohy family told Mike they loved him and wanted to adopt him, it filled a void that had been with him his entire life. Discovering that he wasn’t actually adopted devastated Mike and wounded him deeply.”

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The petition seeks to end conservatorship and bar them from using his name and likeness. It also seeks that Oher receives a share of profits based on the earnings the family purportedly made off his name.

“Since at least August of 2004, Conservators have allowed Michael, specifically, and the public, generally, to believe that Conservators adopted Michael and have used that untruth to gain financial advantages for themselves and the foundations which they own or which they exercise control,” the petition read. 

“All monies made in said manner should in all conscience and equity be disgorged and paid over to the said ward, Michael Oher.”

Oher was drafted in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens, where he would play five seasons and win one Super Bowl before signing with the Tennessee Titans. After a brief stint, he signed with the Carolina Panthers, but was eventually released in 2017. 



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