Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy are calling Michael Oher’s claims that they enriched themselves at his expense “outlandish,” “hurtful and absurd” and part of a “shakedown” by the former NFL offensive tackle, whose relationship with the family was the inspiration for the movie “The Blind Side.”
In the statement first issued Tuesday by attorney Martin Singer to TMZ.com and later obtained by The Associated Press, Singer said the Tuohys are heartbroken and accused Oher of threatening to plant a negative story about them unless they paid him $15 million.
Singer said the Tuohys hope Oher regrets his recent decisions and that they can reconcile.
“In the meantime, however, they will not hesitate to defend their good names, stand up to this shakedown and defeat this offensive lawsuit,” the statement says.
Oher filed a petition Monday in Shelby County Probate Court asking a judge to terminate a conservatorship initiated by the Tuohys in 2004 — months after he turned 18.
“Oher discovered this lie to his chagrin and embarrassment in February of 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,” according to his petition.
He moved in with the Tuohys just before his senior year of high school and later attended Sean Tuohy’s alma mater, Mississippi. Oher asks for a full accounting of his assets considering his life story produced millions of dollars and he says he received nothing.
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Oher, who has never been a fan of the movie about his life, also asks in the petition that the Tuohys be sanctioned and required to pay both compensatory and punitive damages determined by the court.
The Tuohy family statement says the idea that they sought to profit off Oher is “not only offensive, it is transparently ridiculous.” The statement notes the Tuohys are worth “hundreds of millions of dollars” and the notion they would “connive to withhold a few thousand dollars” defies belief.
“They have consistently treated him like a son and one of their three children,” Singer said in the statement. “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 statement says agents negotiated a small advance from the production company for the Oscar-nominated movie “The Blind Side,” which was based on the book written by Sean Tuohy’s friend Michael Lewis. That included “a tiny percentage of net profits” divided equally with the Tuohys making “good on that pledge.”
Singer notes evidence exists in profit participation checks and studio accounting statements for the movie that won Sandra Bullock an Oscar for her portrayal of Leigh Anne Tuohy.
When Oher refused to cash what the statement calls “small profit checks” as part of his “shakedown effort,” the statement says the Tuohys deposited Oher’s share into a trust account set up for his son.
The Tuohys insist they received “not one penny” as Oher’s conservators and set it up only to help him with health insurance, a driver’s license and being admitted to college. The statement says the Tuohys will not oppose Oher’s wish to end their conservatorship.
Singer said in the statement that Oher has tried this “several times before” only to have attorneys stop representing him once they learned the truth. The statement called this a “cynical attempt” as part of Oher’s latest book tour.
Oher was the 23rd overall pick in the 2009 draft out of Mississippi, and he spent his first five seasons with the Baltimore Ravens where he won a Super Bowl. He played 110 games over eight NFL seasons, including 2014 when he started 11 games for the Tennessee Titans. Oher finished his career with two years in Carolina.
He last played in 2016 and was released in 2017 by Carolina.
Associated Press Writer Adrian Sainz in Memphis, Tennessee, contributed to this report.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl