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The 2009 movie The Blind Side told the story of Michael Oher, an African American teenager who was adopted and lifted from terrible poverty by a wealthy, Caucasian family. But now the real Oher, who is a retired NFL star, alleges that he was never actually adopted by the family, and was lied to by them to help them obtain additional wealth off a story that wasn’t true.
According to a petition filed by Oher, the family had him sign something that actually made them his conservators while he was led to believe he was signing a document that gave him a familial relationship with the Tuohys.
Oher is 37 now, and the conservatorship is allegedly still in place. All this time, the Tuohys have been using his name and likeness, and the story of his adoption and rise to stardom. Part of the petition is asking to end the conservatorship, and another part asks for a full accounting of the money the family made off of him and his story, along with what was done with it. The Tuohys, for their part, have said they didn’t make any money from the film, and they continue to love Oher just as much as they always have.
Meanwhile, Oher has said he doesn’t remember even signing the conservatorship agreement and that no one would have talked to him about its implications. Additionally, he long suspected that others were profiting from the movie and other ways of using the story and his name, but he wasn’t getting any of the proceeds. His NFL career took off in 2009, the same year the movie came out, so he didn’t take time to investigate it until 2016, when he started to piece things together.
The Tuohys haven’t made any official response to the petition and the allegations. For years, Oher has lived with the misinformation and pain because he believed the feel-good story had a lot of value to others. But now the pain has become too great, and Oher is speaking out. It remains to be seen what will happen with the petition he filed and how the Tuohys will formally respond.
Conservatorships can play an important role in managing personal and financial matters for people who lack the capacity to manage their own affairs, but be sure that everyone involved understands what they are signing. It is important to make your intent clear in your estate documents to ensure your wishes will be carried out. Getting the help of an experienced and dedicated estate attorney is essential for anticipating and preventing problems in the future. Contact The Estate Planning and Legacy Law Center for comprehensive estate planning services!