Michael Oher was already an elite high school football player en route to an NFL career before moving in with the wealthy Tuohy family in 2004, the 37-year-old retiree explained in an interview amid his ongoing legal battle with the family.
Oher has taken issue with his portrayal in the 2009 film, The Blind side, which details his journey from a poor, destitute upbringing in Memphis to a successful college football career.
‘I had ability to want to succeed and be something, and it didn’t show the work ethic that I put in to get to that point,’ Oher told Salon in a recent interview.
Those who have seen the movie would be inclined to credit the Tuohy family for adopting Oher, helping him improve his grades, and steering him to their alma mater, Ole Miss, where he developed into a first-round NFL talent at offensive tackle.
But Oher has dismantled that narrative in recent weeks, claiming he was never adopted, but instead tricked into agreeing to a conservatorship with Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, who have allegedly profited off his name, image and likeness at his expense.
Oher (center) recently revealed that he was never adopted by Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy
Oher is now opening up about his life in a new book, ‘When Your Back’s Against the Wall.’
‘From the time I was three years old to 18, that’s when the movie really started to portray my life,’ Oher told Salon. ‘I had ambition, very grateful for the platform. [The film is] still inspiring and motivating people across this world, so I’m grateful for that. But at the end of the day, I had drive.’
And it’s this distinction that served as a motivating factor for Oher’s new book.
Instead of waiting for some wealthy savior to swoop in and help, Oher is trying to motivate young readers to make their own success.
Oher earned $34.5million in salary in the NFL
‘I was 18, and I moved in with them a couple of weeks before my senior year of high school,’ he said. ‘I had been through the journey that I had already traveled, a success in its own, coming from where I came from.
‘So you have to give some credit right there. That’s what I want young people to understand and not look at something and say, ‘I’m waiting on my savior, I’m waiting on this quick fix, I’m waiting on someone to come and give me this handout.’
‘That was never my mentality.’
But according to the Tuohy family attorney, Martin D. Singer, Oher was looking for a handout when he approached the Tuohys and allegedly demanded $15 million in movie profits.
Oher recently filed a petition in Tennessee to terminate a conservatorship initiated by the wealthy Tuohy family in 2004, when he was one of the top teenage football prospects in the country. As a result of that conservatorship – which the family, book and film portrayed as a full adoption – Oher claims he was denied profits that ultimately went to the Tuohys and their two biological children.
Now, in his latest filing, Oher is asking for nearly two decades’ worth of financial information, which he claims the Tuohys improperly withheld from him.
The latest motion, filed in Shelby County (Tennessee) Probate Court, was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.
Former Baltimore Ravens tackle Michael Oher is requesting 19 years of financial records
Monday’s filing is the last chapter in Oher’s legal battle with the Tuohy family, who served as his guardians in the early 2000s as he was attracting recruiters from the country’s top college football programs.
Oher claimed in last week’s filing that he was denied profits from the film due to the 2004 conservatorship, which the family has misleadingly portrayed as an adoption. He also requested an injunction, barring the family using his name, image, and likeness or continuing the false claim that he is their adopted son.
The former Ole Miss standout is seeking his share of profits as attorney’s fees, as well as compensatory and punitive damages.
‘Their Ward has been kept in the dark, forced to rely on verbal assurances from his Co-Conservators,’ read Monday’s filing.
Oher claims he made several attempts to end the conservatorship, but the Tuohy’s ‘ignored’ the requests.
In a statement, the Tuohy’s attorneys said the family is willing to terminate the conservatorship, but wanted to ‘defend their good names, stand up to this shakedown and defeat this offensive lawsuit.’
Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy are accused of enriching themselves by using Michael Oher
‘In reality, the Tuohys opened their home to Mr. Oher, offered him structure, support and, most of all, unconditional love,’ read the statement from the Tuohy family attorney, Martin D. Singer. ‘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 Tuohy’s attorneys have claimed that each member of the family, as well as Oher, all received $100,000 for the film.
However, Oher claims the family got $225,000 each with an addition 2.5 percent of film profits.
‘They insisted that any money received be divided equally. And they have made good on that pledge,’ Singer said. ‘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.’