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Tuohy family calls Michael Oher's petition 'hurtful' and an attempt at a 'shakedown'

In this Friday, Feb. 1, 2013 photo, Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, adoptive parents of Baltimore Ravens starting offensive lineman Michael Oher, take part in a television interview in New Orleans. They were depicted in the move "The Blind Side" and will be attending Sunday's NFL football Super Bowl between the Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers.
Gerald Herbert
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AP
In this Friday, Feb. 1, 2013 photo, Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, adoptive parents of Baltimore Ravens starting offensive lineman Michael Oher, take part in a television interview in New Orleans. They were depicted in the move "The Blind Side" and will be attending Sunday's NFL football Super Bowl between the Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers.

Days after allegations surfaced claiming that Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy earned millions and profited off the name, image and likeness of former NFL offensive lineman Michael Oher, the Tuohys are slamming the claims made against them.

The family says that Oher's claims against them in the petition filed in a Tennessee court Monday are essentially a "shakedown effort" in order to get nearly $15 million from them. Oher — the subject of the 2009 blockbuster movie The Blind Side — said that the wealthy Tuohy familyestablished a conservatorship versus legally adopting him.

In a statement issued to NPR by Martin Singer, the Tuohy family's attorney, Singer said the Tuohys 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 his statement.

The family's attorney said the Tuohys hope that Oher "comes to regret his recent decisions" and that they can hopefully reconcile with him — emphasizing how much they still deeply care for Oher.

"In the meantime, however, [the Tuohys] will not hesitate to defend their good names, stand up to this shakedown and defeat this offensive lawsuit," Singer said.

Attorneys representing Oher did not immediately respond to NPR's request for comment. Don Barrett, one of Oher's attorneys, told ESPN in a statement that they believe justice will be served in court.

"We try cases in the courtroom based on the facts. We have confidence in our judicial system and in our client Michael Oher," Barrett said.

The 37-year-old former NFL offensive lineman — who played for both the Baltimore Ravens and the Carolina Panthers — filed a petition Monday asking the Shelby County, Tenn., probate court for the established conservatorship by the Tuohys to be dissolved.

Michael Oher, the former NFL tackle known for the movie "The Blind Side," filed a petition Monday, Aug. 14, 2023, in a Tennessee probate court accusing Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy of lying to him by having him sign papers making them his conservators. Here, Oher speaks to the media during the first day of their NFL football offseason conditioning program in Charlotte, N.C., April 20, 2015.
Chuck Burton / AP
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AP
Michael Oher, the former NFL tackle known for the movie "The Blind Side," filed a petition Monday, Aug. 14, 2023, in a Tennessee probate court accusing Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy of lying to him by having him sign papers making them his conservators. Here, Oher speaks to the media during the first day of their NFL football offseason conditioning program in Charlotte, N.C., April 20, 2015.

In court documents obtained by NPR, Oher argues that Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy convinced him to sign documents that agreed to the conservatorship nearly 20 years ago.

The 2004 conservatorship filing claims that Oher wanted Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy to be his legal guardians up until he turned 25 — or until the conservatorship was terminated by a court.

But in an interview Monday with The Daily Memphian, Sean Tuohy says that all of Oher's allegations are false.

"We didn't make any money off the movie," Tuohy said. "We were never offered money; we never asked for money. My money is well-documented..."

Oher, who spoke with Mississippi Public Broadcasting Monday about his new book — When Your Back's Against the Wall — did not address the petition in his interview. However, he did briefly speak positively about the Tuohys.

"The things I went through and had to do to go through to that point I went through from 3 years old to 18 when I moved in with the Tuohy family — who I'm grateful for letting me stay my senior year there. But you have to understand ... what it took for me to get to that point," Oher told MPB.

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.