‘Blind Side’ Tuohy family says Michael Oher’s lawsuit is a ‘shakedown’


The Tuohy family is slamming Michael Oher’s claims against them, stating that the former athlete’s lawsuit is a “shakedown effort” after attempting to get $15 million dollars from them.

Oher, whose life story was depicted in the 2009 film “The Blind Side,” claimed in a court petition obtained by NBC News that Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy never legally adopted him and made millions off of his story.

In a statement shared with TODAY.com, Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy’s attorney, Marty Singer, called Oher’s petition “outlandish,” “hurtful and absurd.” Singer also stated that the former Baltimore Ravens tackle had threatened the Tuohys in the past.

“The idea that the Tuohys have ever sought to profit off Mr. Oher is not only offensive, it is transparently ridiculous,” the statement read in part, adding that the family opened their home to a then-high schooler Oher and “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 attorney said.

More on ‘The Blind Side’ controversy

Following Singer’s statement on Aug. 15, Oher’s attorney Don Barrett gave the following comment to NBC News:

“We try cases in the courtroom based on the facts. We have confidence in our judicial system and in our client Michael Oher. We believe that justice will be served in the courtroom, and we hope to get there quickly.”

In Singer’s statement for the Tuoheys, he said that the family had been approached by Michael Lewis, “a friend of Sean’s since childhood” about turning his book on Oher and the family into a movie, “his agents negotiated a deal where they received a small advance from the production company and a tiny percentage of net profits. They insisted that any money received be divided equally. And they have made good on that pledge.”

Singer said that the Tuohys have given Oher “an equal cut of every penny received from ‘The Blind Side.’”

“Even recently, when Mr. Oher started to threaten them about what he would do unless they paid him an eight-figure windfall, and, as part of that shakedown effort refused to cash the small profit checks from the Tuohys, they still deposited Mr. Oher’s equal share into a trust account they set up for his son,” Singer said in the statement.

The family’s attorney also argued that this wasn’t the first time Oher had considered filing a lawsuit.

“Numerous other lawyers stopped representing him once they saw the evidence and learned the truth,” Singer wrote, describing the lawsuit as “a cynical attempt to drum up attention in the middle of his latest book tour.”

Oher, then a player for Ole Miss, stands with the Tuohy family during senior ceremonies prior to a game against Mississippi State on Nov. 28, 2008.Matthew Sharpe / Getty Images

The statement also touched on Oher’s remarks about not being adopted. The young man at the time actually entered into a conservatorship.

In Oher’s petition, he stated that he learned that he was not adopted in February 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.” He added that Lisa and Sean Tuohy have been misrepresenting themselves as his adopted parents in an effort to promote themselves and their business endeavors.

In the family statement, Singer said “the Tuohys have always been upfront about how a conservatorship … was established to assist with Mr. Oher’s needs, ranging from getting him health insurance and obtaining a driver’s license to helping with college admissions.”

As for Oher, in a statement shared with TODAY.com after he filed his petition, the athlete said. “I am disheartened by the revelation shared in the lawsuit (Aug. 14). This is a difficult situation for my family and me. I want to ask everyone to please respect our privacy at this time. For now, I will let the lawsuit speak for itself and will offer no further comment.”

TODAY.com has reached out to “The Blind Side” author Michael Lewis and Twentieth Century Fox for comment but has not heard back.

Read the full statement from Singer below:

“Anyone with a modicum of common sense can see that the outlandish claims made by Michael Oher about the Tuohy family are hurtful and absurd. The idea that the Tuohys have ever sought to profit off Mr. Oher is not only offensive, it is transparently ridiculous. Through hard work and good fortune, Sean and Leigh Anne have made an extraordinary amount of money in the restaurant business. 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.  

In reality, the Tuohys 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. 

When Michael Lewis, a friend of Sean’s since childhood, was approached about turning his book on Mr. Oher and the Tuohys into a movie about their family, his agents negotiated a deal where they received a small advance from the production company and a tiny percentage of net profits. They insisted that any money received be divided equally. And they have made good on that pledge.

The evidence — documented in profit participation checks and studio accounting statements — is clear: over the years, the Tuohys have given Mr. Oher an equal cut of every penny received from The Blind Side. Even recently, when Mr. Oher started to threaten them about what he would do unless they paid him an eight-figure windfall, and, as part of that shakedown effort refused to cash the small profit checks from the Tuohys, they still deposited Mr. Oher’s equal share into a trust account they set up for his son.  

Additionally, in spite of the false allegation in the lawsuit, the Tuohys have always been upfront about how a conservatorship (from which not one penny was received) was established to assist with Mr. Oher’s needs, ranging from getting him health insurance and obtaining a driver’s license to helping with college admissions. Should Mr. Oher wish to terminate the conservatorship, either now or at anytime in the future, the Tuohys will never oppose it in any way.

Unbeknownst to the public, Mr. Oher has actually attempted to run this play several times before — but it seems that numerous other lawyers stopped representing him once they saw the evidence and learned the truth. Sadly, Mr. Oher has finally found a willing enabler and filed this ludicrous lawsuit as a cynical attempt to drum up attention in the middle of his latest book tour. 

The Tuohys will always care deeply for Mr. Oher. They are heartbroken over these events. They desperately hope that he comes to regret his recent decisions, makes different choices in the future and that they someday can be reconciled with him. In the meantime, however, they will not hesitate to defend their good names, stand up to this shakedown and defeat this offensive lawsuit.”



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