It’s difficult to even unpack all of the layers of racism, white supremacy, white-saviorism and regular old fraud when it comes to this week’s revelations about Michael Oher and the Tuohy family. When Oher was a gifted-but-poor teen, the Tuohys were one of several Memphis families taking him in and looking after him. They offered to adopt him, they had him sign some papers and up until February of his year, Oher believed that they were his adoptive parents. Turns out, it was all a lie – they never adopted him, they scammed him into a conservatorship which defrauded Oher out of millions of dollars. He received no money for his life rights, which were used to make The Blind Side. Oher released a new statement the day after he filed a lawsuit against the Tuohys and petitioned to have the court remove the conservatorship.
Former NFL player Michael Oher has released a statement after he filed a legal petition to terminate a conservatorship, in which he alleges Leigh Anne Tuohy and Sean Tuohy lied about adopting him while making millions off his name. On Monday, Oher, 37, filed a petition claiming that the Tuohy family did not legally adopt him but tricked him into making them his conservators before earning millions from his falsified life story, which was depicted in the film The Blind Side.
“I am disheartened by the revelation shared in the lawsuit today,” Oher said in a statement issued to PEOPLE by a representative for the former NFL player. Oher’s statement continued, “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.”
Yes, let the lawsuit speak for itself. Not only that, but let the Tuohys incriminate themselves by lying their asses off all over the place. Sean Tuohy – the patriarch of the Tuohy family and the man who lied about adopting Michael Oher for years – spoke to the Daily Memphian on Tuesday and these quotes are a lot:
Sean on Oher’s lawsuit: “We’re devastated. It’s upsetting to think we would make money off any of our children. But we’re going to love Michael at 37 just like we loved him at 16.”
On the accusation that the Tuohys made money off of the movie: “We were never offered money; we never asked for money. My money is well-documented; you can look up how much I sold my company for. The last thing I needed was 40 grand from a movie. I will say it’s upsetting that people would think I would want to make money off any of my children.”
The conservatorship, Part 1: Tuohy insisted the conservatorship that prompted the filing of Monday’s petition was unrelated to the movie. Rather, it was a way to appease the NCAA, the nonprofit organization that regulates student athletics, when it appeared Oher was likely to play football at the University of Mississippi. Tuohy was an All-American point guard at the Southern university known as “Ole Miss” and an active supporter of the school. As such, he would qualify as a “booster” under NCAA rules.
The conservatorship Part 2: “Michael was obviously living with us for a long time, and the NCAA didn’t like tha. They said the only way Michael could go to Ole Miss was if he was actually part of the family. I sat Michael down and told him, ‘If you’re planning to go to Ole Miss — or even considering Ole Miss — we think you have to be part of the family. This would do that, legally.’ We contacted lawyers who had told us that we couldn’t adopt over the age of 18; the only thing we could do was to have a conservatorship. We were so concerned it was on the up-and-up that we made sure the biological mother came to court.”
What happened after the movie came out: Tuohy said that while he and his family had remained close with Oher following the film’s release in 2009, he began to notice some distance “maybe a year and a half ago…It’s upsetting, but it’s life, what are you going to do? Certain people will believe us and certain people won’t. No question, the allegations are insulting, but, look, it’s a crazy world. You’ve got to live in it. It’s obviously upset everybody. It’s hard because you have to defend yourself, but whatever he wants, we’ll do. We’re not in this for anything other than whatever he wants. If he’d have said, ‘I don’t want to be part of the family anymore,’ we’d have been very upset, but we absolutely would have done it.”
Whether he’s willing to end the conservatorship: “I want whatever Michael wants.”
There are so many sketchy parts of Sean Tuohy’s story – if everything was completely above-board with the conservatorship, why didn’t Oher know about it at the time? Why was he told it was an adoption? Why did the Tuohys tell people – including the filmmakers and journalists – that they adopted him? If the conservatorship was just an NCAA work-around, why wasn’t the conservatorship removed after Oher left Ole Miss and joined the NFL? Why was Oher not consulted about his life rights and why did he not profit whatsoever from the film? This whole thing is so unsettling.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Cover Images.
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