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Michael FletcherESPNSeptember 14, 2023, 07:51 pm ET3 minute read

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‘Blind Side’ subject Michael Oher alleges adoption was a lie

Michael Fletcher reports on retired NFL lineman Michael Oher’s petition that alleges the Tuohy family never adopted him and instead used a conservatorship to do business in his name.

The couple accused by retired NFL star Michael Oher of tricking him into taking conservatorship shortly after he turned 18 and taking all the profits from a hit movie about his life filed a legal response Thursday in which they “denied vehemently” to have enriched himself at the expense of Oher.

In a four-page response to a petition Oher filed in Tennessee last month, Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy said profits from the 2009 hit movie “The Blind Side” were divided equally between them, their two children and Oher.

“The entire Tuohy family, including the petitioner, agreed to this agreement, in which each party would receive 20% of the profits,” the response said. The response went on to say that the family received a portion of the $225,000 paid to acclaimed author Michael Lewis, whose best-selling book was the basis of the film.

The couple also said they received a $200,000 donation to their foundation from the film’s profits. Oher had the opportunity to receive the same amount for the charity of her choice but “did not take the necessary action,” the response said.

In the legal filing, the Tuohys also denied telling Oher they planned to adopt him. However, they acknowledged using the term “adopt” in a “colloquial sense” to describe their relationship with Oher. “They never intended for that reference to be viewed with legal implications,” the response said.

The Tuohys said in the filing that they became Oher’s guardians only so he would be eligible to play college football at the University of Mississippi, the Tuohys’ alma mater. “When it became clear that Petitioner could not consider going to the University of Mississippi (“Ole Miss”) as a result of living with Respondents, the NCAA made it clear that the only way he could attend Ole Miss” was if Oher In some ways he was part of the family, the answer said. “Guardianship was the tool chosen to achieve this goal.”

The story of the Tuohys and their efforts to help Oher escape poverty and reach the NFL was immortalized in the film. Last month, Oher filed a petition in Shelby County Probate Court alleging that a central element of the story — that the Tuohys had adopted him — was a lie invented by the family to enrich themselves.

Instead, less than three months after Oher turned 18 in 2004, according to the petition, the couple tricked him into signing a document making them his guardians, giving them legal authority to do business on his behalf.

In his court petition, Oher asked a judge to end the conservatorship granted to the Tuohys in August 2004, so that the money the Tuohys earned using Oher’s name would be fully accounted for and for the couple to pay him his share. fair share of profits, as well as unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

The Tuohys’ attorneys have said publicly that the family wants to end the conservatorship, a statement repeated in their court filing.

“Defendants are ready, willing, and able to terminate the guardianship by consent at any time,” the document said.

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