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After 19 years, the Tuohys say they plan to terminate Michael Oher's conservatorship

Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy are seen in New Orleans in 2013. Michael Oher, the former NFL tackle whose story inspired the movie <em>The Blind Side,</em> on Monday filed a petition accusing the Tuohys of lying to him by having him sign papers making them his conservators rather than his adoptive parents nearly two decades ago.
Gerald Herbert
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AP
Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy are seen in New Orleans in 2013. Michael Oher, the former NFL tackle whose story inspired the movie The Blind Side, on Monday filed a petition accusing the Tuohys of lying to him by having him sign papers making them his conservators rather than his adoptive parents nearly two decades ago.

Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy say they intend to end their conservatorship for Michael Oher, former NFL offensive lineman and the inspiration behind the 2009 film, The Blind Side, according to their lawyers.

During a news conference in Memphis this week, one of the Tuohys' attorneys — Randall Fishman — said the couple intends to enter into a legal agreement to end the nearly 20-year conservatorship.

"If that's what [Oher] wants to do, is terminate it, then we're more than glad to do so," Fishman said.

Oher, 37, filed a petition Monday asking the Shelby County, Tenn., probate court for the conservatorship by the Tuohys to be dissolved. He contends that the wealthy couple profited off his name, likeness and image and had him sign papers making them his conservators rather than his adoptive parents 19 years ago.

The 2004 conservatorship filing claimed that Oher wanted the Tuohys to be his legal guardians until he became 25 years old — or until the conservatorship was dissolved by a court.

Oher alleged in the petition that he discovered in February of this year that legally he was not actually part of the Tuohy family.

"Michael got every dime, every dime he had coming," Fishman told reporters.

Steve Farese, one of the Tuohys' attorneys, told reporters that the couple's finances outside of Oher were more than enough.

"They don't need his money," Farese said. "They've never needed his money."

The Tuohys deny Oher's claims

Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher sits on the bench during an NFL game against the Buffalo Bills on Oct. 24, 2010.
Nick Wass / AP
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AP
Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher sits on the bench during an NFL game against the Buffalo Bills on Oct. 24, 2010.

Days after allegations surfaced that the Tuohys earned millions off Oher's name, members of the family spoke out, slamming the claims made against them.

The family says that Oher's claims in the petition are essentially a "shakedown effort" to get nearly $15 million from them.

In an earlier statement issued to NPR, Martin Singer, another one of the Tuohys' attorneys, said they are "heartbroken over these events" and that the idea of the family ever profiting from Oher is "transparently ridiculous."

"The notion that a couple worth hundreds of millions of dollars would connive to withhold a few thousand dollars in profit participation payments from anyone – let alone from someone they loved as a son – defies belief," Singer said.

In an interview with The Daily Memphian on Monday, Sean Tuohy said that none of Oher's allegations are true.

"We didn't make any money off the movie," Tuohy said.

The 63-year-old restauranteur and sports commentator told the Memphis newspaper he first heard the news of Oher's petition after a friend sent him an article from ESPN, which first reported the story.

Tuohy told The Daily Memphian that Michael Lewis — the author of the book that The Blind Side film is based on — gave his family half of the share of profits from the book. Tuohy said each member of the family, including Oher, received an equal share of about $14,000.

"We were never offered money; we never asked for money. My money is well-documented; you can look up how much I sold my company for," Tuohy told the newspaper.

Oher and his attorneys have not responded to NPR's multiple requests for comment.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jonathan Franklin
Jonathan Franklin is a digital reporter on the News desk covering general assignment and breaking national news.