On September 29, 2023, a judge ruled to terminate the conservatorship between former NFL player Michael Oher and the Tuohy family. Oher signed the conservatorship in 2004 at the age of 18 under false pretenses. This arrangement granted Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy legal authority to engage in business ventures in his name. However, Shelby County Probate Court Judge Kathleen Gomes announced on Friday the discontinuation of the document allowing the Tuohy family to control Michael Oher’s finances.
The Truth Comes to Light
In February 2023, Michael Oher discovered that he had no familial relations to the Tuohys. Allegations have emerged that Sean and Leigh Anne falsely represented themselves as Oher’s adoptive parents in order to gain fame off his name. Oher also claims the Tuohy family misled him into believing that the conservatorship documents were his adoption papers. It took nearly two decades for him to uncover the truth, and only a portion of the papers has been exposed. Oher revealed that he remained unaware of the extent to which his name and story were monetized.
Photo Cred: The Today Show
The Blind Side
For many, the names Michael Oher and the Tuohy family are familiar due to the 2009 film, “The Blind Side,” which captured the hearts of audiences. Sandra Bullock, who won an Oscar for Best Actress for her role, starred in the movie. The film is a biographical account of Michael Oher’s life- a young man who grew up in the Tennessee projects. He overcame challenges such as gang violence, old acquaintances, the foster care system, judgment, and poverty. One fateful night, he encountered Leigh Anne Tuohy while walking to the gym in the dark, cold, rainy weather. Tuohy questioned Oher about heading to the gym when it was closed, to which Oher replied, “Because it’s warm.”
Photo Cred: The Hollywood Reporter (L- Oher, R- actor Quinton Aaron)
She quickly asked Oher if he had a place to stay that night. After he responded affirmatively, she sternly said, “Don’t you dare lie to me.” The rest was history, or so we thought. Oher stayed that night with the Tuohy family and never left. Through the lens of the movie, viewers witnessed them becoming his family and, most importantly, they saw him experience a mother’s love. Personally, the movie served as a reminder that good-hearted people still exist.
Legal Battles Not Over
In August, Oher filed a petition with a Memphis probate court. In the petition, he requested the termination of the conservatorship, a comprehensive financial report detailing all earnings the Tuohy family garnered from his name, and reimbursement with interest. The petition also adds negative allegations questioning the character of the Tuohys.
“Where other parents of Michael’s classmates saw Michael simply as a nice kid in need, Conservators Sean Tuohy and Leigh Anne Tuohy saw something else: a gullible young man whose athletic talent could be exploited for their own benefit.”
While a judge ruled on Friday to end the conservatorship, the legal battles are far from over. Significant matters within the lawsuit persist, including concerns regarding payments and allegations of forged signatures by the family. The Tuohy family, along with their legal representatives, have consistently denied all claims. They emphasize that their actions were solely in the best interests of Oher and express shock at the allegations made against them. Sean Tuohy shared his thoughts on a Daily Memphian website.
Photo Cred: Yahoo News
“We didn’t make any money off the movie, only a share of proceeds from Michael Lewis’ book, which was the foundation for the film,” said Tuohy. “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.”
As the world closely follows this unfolding story, we can only hope for a positive resolution, while also considering the possibility that the allegations against the Tuohy family may be unfounded.