Just call it a blindside. The inspiring story of retired NFL tackle Michael Oher and the Tuohy family is well known thanks to Michael Lewis’ best selling book The Blind Side and the 2009 movie of the same name that earned actress Sandra Bullock an Oscar for her portrayal of matriarch Leigh Anne Tuohy. But now it is all being called into question.
Earlier this month, Oher filed a petition in Tennessee court alleging Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, who took him into their home as a high school student, misled him about their legal relationship and cheated him out of royalties from The Blind Side.
On Tuesday’s show, Megyn was joined by Jason Whitlock, host of BlazeTV’s Fearless, to discuss the facts in the case and why it’s a “sad” situation.
Michael Oher’s Court Filing
Last week, Oher, who is in the midst of a media blitz to promote his new book, shocked the world when he filed a 14-page petition in Shelby County, Tennessee, probate court claiming that he was tricked into signing a document that made the Tuohys his conservators (not his adoptive family) and gave them legal authority to make business deals in his name.
“Michael Oher discovered this lie to his chagrin and embarrassment in February of 2023, when he learned that the Conservatorship to which he consented on the basis that doing so would make him a member of the Tuohy family, in fact provided him no familial relationship with the Tuohys,” the legal filing says.
As Whitlock pointed out, “this narrative” seemingly contradicts Oher’s own writing in his 2011 memoir, I Beat the Odds, in which he talks about the conservatorship:
“Since I was already over the age of 18 and considered an adult by the state of Tennessee, Sean and Leigh Anne would be named as my ‘legal conservators.’ They explained to me that it pretty much means the exact same thing as adoptive parents, but that the laws were just written in a way that took my age into account. Honestly, I didn’t care what it was called. My mother was going to be at the hearing to agree that she supported the decision to have the Tuohys listed as my next of kin and legal conservators.”
Megyn agreed that the comments don’t square. “Now he’s claiming he didn’t understand, that he didn’t know, that he thought he was adopted,” she noted. “That’s clearly not true.”
The petition also alleges the Tuohys used their power as conservators to negotiate a deal that earned them millions of dollars in royalties from the Oscar-winning film, while Oher got nothing for the story “that would not have existed without him.” The document notes that “the lie of Michael’s adoption is one upon which co-conservators Leigh Anne Tuohy and Sean Tuohy have enriched themselves at the expense of their ward, the undersigned Michael Oher.”
The Tuohy Family Responds
The Tuohys have not taken the allegations lying down. They hired Hollywood power attorney Marty Singer, who provided a lengthy statement to TMZ on the family’s behalf. It reads in part:
“The notion that a couple worth hundreds of millions 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.
In reality, the two had opened their home to Mr. Oher, offered him structure, support, and, most of all, unconditional love. They have consistently treated him like a son and one of their three children. His response was to threaten them, including saying that he would plant a negative story about them in the press, unless they paid him $15 million…
The evidence – documented in profit participation checks and studio accounting statements – is clear: Over the years, the Tuohys have given Mr. Oher an equal count of every penny received from The Blind Side. Even recently, when Mr. Oher started to threaten them about what he was doing unless they paid him an eight-figure windfall, and, as part of that shakedown effort refused to cash the small profit checks the Tuohys gave to him, they still deposited Mr. Oher’s equal share into a trust account they set up for his son.”
Whitlock said the facts appear to be on the Tuohys’ side. “When he moved in with them in 2004, he was not an All-American football player… Michael Oher thought he was going to be a basketball player,” he explained. “The Tuohys, when they moved him into their home, were not thinking this was some future NFL player that was going to be worth millions of dollars. They thought they had a kid who needed help just to get his life on the right path.”
What’s Really Going on Here
Whitlock called Oher’s behavior “sad” and believes it is a reflection of where the former NFL player is in his life. “I think a lot of this… is driven by the fact that Michael Oher is at a crossroads,” he shared. “He’s been out of the NFL for five, six, seven years; he’s 37 years old; I think he’s written in his new memoir that just came out… that he struggled with job, and career, and depression.”
This could be, Whitlock said, a way for Oher to raise his profile once again. “I think this petition is part of a publicity campaign,” he said. “He would love to see Netflix, or Amazon Prime, or some movie studio out in Hollywood commission a sequel to The Blind Side – the ‘real’ Blind Side, the new Michael Oher – and he wants to negotiate a better movie deal that makes him the champion and more of a hero… than he thinks the [original] book and/or movie made him.”
Regardless of the motive, Whitlock said Oher is going about it the wrong way. “This is just a frustrated former athlete doing something that I believe is very unethical to enrich himself and to enhance his brand,” he concluded. “It’s sad.”
You can check out Megyn’s full interview with Whitlock by tuning in to episode 612 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.