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Did the 'Blind Side' Tuohys adopt Michael Oher? No, and they had 'no intent' to

The couple said Oher's claim that he learned he was never legally adopted this year is "demonstratively false."
/ Source: TODAY

Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy say they never had plans to legally adopt former NFL star Michael Oher and they deny making money off his name.

In a court filing on Sept. 14, obtained by NBC News, the Tennessee couple stated that they "never intended to, and in fact never did, take any action to assume legal custody" of Oher, 37.

They also say that Oher has always known that.

The Tuohys, both 63, took the former Baltimore Ravens tackle into their home when he was a high school football star. The story eventually inspired the Oscar-winning 2009 movie “The Blind Side."

On Aug. 14, Oher filed a petition stating that the Tuohys asked him to sign documents in 2004 when he was 18 that he believed were adoption papers, but instead it was a petition for a conservatorship.

Michael Oher #74 of the Ole Miss Rebels stands with his family
Michael Oher, center, stands with Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy during senior ceremonies prior to a game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs on November 28, 2008 in Oxford, MI.Matthew Sharpe / Getty Images

Oher claimed in his petition that he learned only in February 2023 that had never been legally adopted by the Tuohys.

The former Ole Miss star claimed his conservatorship gave the couple the legal authority to arrange his business deals, which they used to make money off his name.

He also claimed that the Tuohys and their two children made millions off the “The Blind Side” while he earned nothing.

In their filing on Sept. 14, the Tuohys addressed Oher’s claims one by one.

They stated that although they thought of Oher as their “son,” and he called them “mom” and “dad,” there “was never an intent to adopt him.”

They also “vehemently” denied that they told the Oher “that they intended to legally adopt him.”

“Clearly, the Respondents loved the Petitioner and as a result provided him with shelter, food, and clothing and in fact bought him more than one vehicle for his personal use,” the filing said. “In fact, they have always felt that the Petitioner was like a son and have used that on occasion but not in a legal sense.”

The Tuohys said Oher’s claim that he only this year learned he had never been adopted was “demonstratively false,” pointing to the athlete’s 2011 memoir “I Beat The Odds,” in which he indicated that he knew that the Tuohy’s were appointed as his conservators. 

The couple denied ever seeing Oher as a “gullible young man whose athletic talent could be exploited for their own benefit,” as Oher’s petition indicated.

The Tuohys became Oher’s conservators in an effort to help him to play college football at their alma mater, the University of Mississippi after the “NCAA made it clear that the only way he could attend the Ole Miss if he was part of the Tuohy family in some fashion," their filing said.

“Conservatorship was the tool chosen to accomplish this goal,” it added.

The Tuohys also denied ever having “ultimate control” of Oher’s business contracts and stated that the only documents of Oher’s they “may or may not have been required to sign” were his Ole Miss scholarship papers.

As for profits from “The Blind Side,” the Tuohys said all the earnings from the movie, which earned Sandra Bullock an Oscar for best actress, were “equally divided” among the couple, their two children and Oher. 

The movie's producers also denied in August that the Tuohys were paid millions while Oher was shut out.

The "Blind Side" was based on Michael Lewis’ 2006 release of the book “The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game,” which told Oher’s story.

The author told The Washington Post in August that the Tuohys “showered (Oher) with resources and love. That he’s suspicious of them is breathtaking. The state of mind one has to be in to do that — I feel sad for him.”

The Tuohys concluded the recent filing by stating they are “ready, willing, and able to terminate the conservatorship by consent at any time,” according to the filing.

Don Barrett, attorney for Michael Oher, told NBC News on Sept. 15, “The Tuohys have filed a response within the deadline required by Mike’s petition. We look forward to Mike finally getting his day in court, where we are confident that the truth will prevail.”