'We're Devastated!' 'Blind Side' Father Responds to Ravens' Michael Oher Allegations

Sean Tuohy is responding to Michael Oher claims.

via: Sports Illustrated

Tuohy is hopeful for a Hollywood ending. Tuohy and his family gained fame alongside former Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman Michael Oher for their shared story depicted in “The Blind Side,” a 2006 book by Michael Collins that was adapted into a lauded film three years later. In both the book and film, the Tuohy family is shown to have adopted Oher, an impoverished youth who later became an All-American offensive lineman and Baltimore’s first-round pick in 2009.

Oher, however, has filed a lawsuit that alleges that an official adoption never happened and that the Tuohys tricked him into signing documents that made them his conservators when he turned 18, allowing them to make business deals and decisions in his name.

“We’re devastated,” Tuohy told Geoff Calkins of the Daily Memphian. “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.”

Oher’s lawsuit alleges that the Tuohy family made millions off of his name and story primarily through conditions in the conservatorship that yielded millions in royalties for the biological Tuohy children Collins and Sean Jr.

Tuohy countered that Oher, as well as the rest of the family, was paid $14,000 for the film adaptation. In his interview with Calkins, Tuohy said his fortune was “well-documented,” having sold off a majority of his KFC, Long John Silver’s, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell fast food franchises for nine figures.

Tuohy further claims that the conservatorship was done in the name of helping Oher attend the University of Mississippi. As a former Rebels athlete (earning All-SEC honors and later getting drafted by the New Jersey Nets in the 1982 NBA Draft) and a financial contributor to Ole Miss athletics, the NCAA saw Tuohy as a booster. Tuohy also said that, since Oher was over 18 at the time, the family was unable to legally adopt him.

“Michael was obviously living with us for a long time, and the NCAA didn’t like that,” Tuohy said. “They said the only way Michael could go to Ole Miss was if he was actually part of the family. I sat Michael down and told him, ‘If you’re planning to go to Ole Miss — or even considering Ole Miss — we think you have to be part of the family. This would do that, legally.’”

“We contacted lawyers who had told us that we couldn’t adopt over the age of 18; the only thing we could do was to have a conservatorship. We were so concerned it was on the up-and-up that we made sure the biological mother came to court.”

Tuohy, who was portrayed by actor/country music star Tim McGraw in the “Blind Side” film, said that “of course” he’d be willing to end the conservatorship, calling the allegations “insulting” but seeking to honor Oher’s wishes … even if it calls for officially ending his relationship with the family. He mentioned that there had been some distance between his family and Oher for “a year and a half” but that he was blindsided by the lawsuit.

“It’s hard because you have to defend yourself, but whatever he wants, we’ll do,” Tuohy declared. “We’re not in this for anything other than whatever he wants. If he’d have said, ‘I don’t want to be part of the family anymore,’ we’d have been very upset, but we absolutely would have done it.”

“The Blind Side” film was released in 2009, months after the Ravens drafted him with the 23rd overall pick. Starring Quinton Aaron as Oher, the film grossed over $309 million at the box office and was universally lauded for Sandra Bullock’s performance as Tuohy family matriarch Leigh Anne. Bullock won a Golden Globe Award for her depiction and the film was also nominated for Best Picture at the following year’s Academy Awards but lost out to “The Hurt Locker.”

Oher played eight NFL seasons between Baltimore, Tennessee, and Carolina. He earned a Super Bowl ring as a starter on the Ravens’ offensive line when they topped San Francisco in the 47th edition.

This is far from the first time that Oher has expressed displeasure with the film. He told ESPN in 2017 that he believed the film’s popularity caused observers to develop preconceived notions of his abilities and intellect.

“People look at me, and they take things away from me because of a movie,” he said to David Newton. “They don’t really see the skills and the kind of player I am. That’s why I get downgraded so much, because of something off the field. This stuff, calling me a bust, people saying if I can play or not … that has nothing to do with football. It’s something else off the field. That’s why I don’t like that movie.”

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