Former NFL player Michael Oher has filed a lawsuit alleging that his adoptive family, portrayed in the film “The Blind Side,” made up a significant part of his story for their own financial gain. According to ESPN, Oher claims that his adoptive parents, Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, never legally adopted him and instead had him sign a document designating them as his guardians. This allowed them to engage in commercial activities on his behalf, including entering into a lucrative agreement for the film rights to his story. Oher, on the other hand, received no compensation for the use of his story.
The lawsuit states that the Tuohys continued to refer to Oher as their adopted son and used this designation to promote their foundation and Leigh Anne Tuohy’s work. However, Oher discovered the truth about his legal status in 2023 and is now seeking to end the guardianship and obtain an injunction preventing the Tuohys from using his name and image. He is also seeking a full accounting of the money the family earned from his story and is requesting compensatory and punitive damages.
It is important to note that if Oher had been legally adopted, he would have retained the right to manage his own financial affairs. Under the guardianship arrangement, he ceded this power to the Tuohys despite being a legally competent adult.
Michael Oher, a native of Memphis, Tennessee, played eight seasons in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens, the Tennessee Titans, and the Carolina Panthers. He was a member of the Ravens team that won the Super Bowl in 2013.
This lawsuit shines a light on the complex dynamics and potential exploitation that can occur within the realm of adoption and celebrity. It raises important questions about the responsibilities of adoptive families and the rights and agency of adopted individuals. As the legal proceedings unfold, the outcome of this case will likely have far-reaching implications for the understanding and treatment of adoptees in the public eye.