Family of ‘Blind Side’ movie refutes charge it tried to ‘profit off’ homeless football player

By Peter LaBarbera

Scene from 'The Blind Side' (video screenshot)
Scene from ‘The Blind Side’ (video screenshot)

A lawyer for Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy of “The Blind Side” movie fame is pushing back hard against a lawsuit by Michael Oher, the once-homeless football star who is the beloved film’s subject, who now claims the Tuohys tricked him into signing conservatorship documents to exploit him for their own financial gain.

Oher filed his lawsuit in a Tennessee probate court Monday, touching off widespread coverage of the legal conflict, but also sparking discussions of whether the 2009 movie was “racist” because it celebrates rich whites helping a disadvantaged black boy. Like most films rooted in real events, the film takes some liberties with what actually happened.

Meanwhile, prominent conservative Christian pundit and writer Jason Whitlock of TheBlaze says the new assault on “The Blind Side” represents “yet another assault on biblical values disguised as racial justice.”

“The Blind Side” tells the story of Oher, one of 12 children whose father was murdered and whose mother was a crack addict. He bounced from school to school as a child and became a ward of the state, but ultimately, through the kindness of a coach, was able to attend a Christian school.

A Christian couple, Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy (the latter played by Sandra Bullock in the film), take Michael in, help him make up for lost education by hiring a tutor for him, and end up treating him like one of their children. Oher ends up becoming an All-American lineman at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) before being drafted by the Baltimore Ravens, where he played until 2013, the year they won the Super Bowl.

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‘A gullible young man whose athletic talent could be exploited’

Oher’s shocking court filing, attacking the Tuohys, states: “Where other parents of Michael’s classmates [at Briarcrest Christian School in Eads, Tenn.] saw Michael simply as a nice kid in need, Conservators Sean Tuohy and Leigh Ann Tuohy saw something else: a gullible young man whose athletic talent could be exploited for their own benefit.” It goes on to accuse the family that took him into their home of tricking him into signing conservatorship papers, which he thought were “legal papers that were a necessary step in the adoption process.”

CBS reported Thursday that Oher’s lawsuit “claims the Tuohys entered Oher into a conservatorship while presenting it to be the same process as legal adoption. The lawsuit demanded an end to the Tuohys’ conservatorship of Oher, which has been in place since 2004, just months after his 18th birthday. … Entering Oher into a conservatorship allowed the Tuohys to oversee Oher’s financial life and enter into legal deals without his consent, though Oher was not a legal member of the family.”

“Michael 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,” the legal filing reads, according to CBS.

‘They have consistently treated him like a son’
In response to the stunning accusations, the Tuohys claim through their attorney, Martin Singer, that Oher had tried to shake them down for $15 million before filing the lawsuit.

Oher charges he did not get his fair share of the profits from the 2009 film “The Blind Side,” which grossed more than $300 million worldwide. But the Tuohys said any money they made from the movie (about $700,000) was split evenly between the entire family, with Michael getting an equal share (even though he was not adopted). However, they said he would not cash the checks so they deposited them in a trust account for Oher’s son.

The family announced Thursday it was ending its conservatorship of Oher.

On Tuesday, Singer issued a blistering response defending the Tuohys against Oher’s charges: “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,” said the statement, according to ESPN.

It continues: “They insisted that any money received be divided equally. And they have made good on that pledge,” Singer continued. “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.’ Even recently, when Mr. Oher started to threaten them about what he would do unless they paid him an eight-figure windfall, and, as part of that shakedown effort refused to cash the small profit checks from the Tuohys, they still deposited Mr. Oher’s equal share into a trust account they set up for his son.”

The Tuohys said they were devastated by Oher’s action and scoffed at the notion that they needed to exploit him for money, since Sean Tuohy was a successful fast-food entrepreneur who reportedly sold his chain of restaurants for more than $200 million.

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‘Here’s the message: Do not be a white savior’
Christian columnist Jason Whitlock of TheBlaze says Oher’s lawsuit against his Christian benefactors, and the use of it by leftists to condemn “The Blind Side” as “racist,” is “yet another assault on biblical values” – particularly that of sacrifice epitomized by the atoning death of Jesus Christ on the cross – “disguised as racial justice.”

“The allegations against the Tuohys are woke revisionist history,” he writes. “According to attorneys for the Tuohys, Michael Oher has spent the last year or two attempting to blackmail the Tuohys for $15 million, the money he believes he’s owed from the success of ‘The Blind Side.’ A lawyer for the Tuohys released a statement explaining that Oher has repeatedly tried to shake them down for cash. … That makes far more sense than the reverse.

“The Tuohys have been wealthy for many years. They owned a suite of fast-food franchises and sold them for more than $200 million. Oher earned $30 million over the course of his eight-year NFL career. A large percentage of former NFL players go broke shortly after their careers end. When you get rich in your 20s, long before you know what to do with money, it’s not surprising that the money disappears after your forced retirement,” he writes.

Whitlock, a longtime sports journalist before coming to TheBlaze, ends his column as follows:

There’s a crisis within black America around the destruction of family. Too many black children grow up neglected and unloved like Michael Oher. This trauma is most acute among black boys. Christians recognize this pervasive problem because their worldview preaches the importance of the nuclear family.

The attack on “The Blind Side” and the Tuohys is a warning to white Christians to avoid trying to help the next Michael Oher. Here’s the message: Do not be a white savior. Do not in any way try to mimic the behavior of your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The tyrannical and corrupt U.S. government owns black people and is their lord and savior. Government social workers, monthly welfare checks, and state-controlled foster homes will provide for current and future Michael Ohers. The Tuohys are evil bigots. Hollywood should never have celebrated their sacrifice.

“Racial justice” is a lie concocted by atheists, sold to black believers to justify racial idolatry, and a tool to detach all of us from a biblical worldview. Man color-coded justice. Adopting man’s color-coded worldview guarantees increased injustice.

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