The “white savior” trope that plays out in the award-winning film The Blind Side just got tackled. Michael Oher, the former NFL football player the film was based on, alleges that the real-life family who took him in as a teen essentially garnished his wages.
ESPN reports that on Monday (Aug. 14) Oher petitioned a Shelby County Tennessee court and alleged that the white family who adopted him, which was portrayed in The Blind Side, enriched themselves at his expense while the film itself was based on a lie. Oher claims that Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy actually never adopted him after they ushered him into their home as a teen high school student. Allegedly, after he turned 18, he claims the Tuohys misled him into signing a document that made them his conservators. This meant they had the authority to make financial decisions, like business deals, on his behalf.
Things get a extra dicey because it also meant that the Tuohys, and their birth children, mad millions off the success of the film. As for Oher, he didn’t see any royalties from the movie. Reports ESPN:
The petition further alleges that the Tuohys used their power as conservators to strike a deal that paid them and their two birth children millions of dollars in royalties from an Oscar-winning film that earned more than $300 million, while Oher got nothing for a story “that would not have existed without him.” In the years since, the Tuohys have continued calling the 37-year-old Oher their adopted son and have used that assertion to promote their foundation as well as Leigh Anne Tuohy’s work as an author and motivational speaker.”
“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,” reads part of the legal filing. “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 Tuohys.”
As part of the petition, Oher is seeking to terminate the Tuohys’ conservatorship and to stop them from continuing to use his name and likeness. He’s also seeking an audit of all the money the Tuohys have made using his name as well as his fair share of the profits from the film. Oher is also seeing punitive and compensatory damages.
Oher maintains the Tuohys told him there was no difference between adoption and conservatorship when he signed the papers before his senior in high school. Oher would go on to play football for the University of Mississippi, before being selected by the Baltimore Ravens in the first-round of the 2009 NFL draft. He retired in 2016, and he eventually began investigating the circumstances of his alleged adoption. His lawyer unearthed the conservatorship document earlier this year.
If his allegations are true, we hope he gets every cent he is owed. Read the full jig over at ESPN.
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