Like many Americans, I’m both familiar with and have great affection for the 2009 movie The Blind Side. I will confess that personally this is because I have loved Sandra Bullock ever since the 1995 Christmas rom-com While You Were Sleeping. She can pretty much do no wrong on screen in my book, so I was thrilled for her when she won an Oscar for portraying Leigh Anne Tuohy, a Southern mom whose family takes in neglected teen Michael Oher, an African-American who becomes a high school, college, and eventually NFL football star.
Years later, as I became more aware of the social problems surrounding race in America (I was super ignorant, for real), I realized that there were some “White Savior” issues with the movie, but I sort of brushed it aside. After all, at its heart, it was the story about a family, right? A family who opened their hearts to expanding, and changed the life of a child in the process.
Recent breaking news has put a crack in my rose-colored glasses. Oher, now 37, says he has discovered that instead of being legally adopted by the Tuohy family, he was actually just the victim of a nefarious conservatorship. He signed the conservatorship papers three months after his 18th birthday, he says, after having been told that this would finalize his legal adoption by the Tuohy’s. Instead, he says, it just enabled them to profit from the movie about his life story and from his NFL career.
Oher filed a petition earlier this week in Shelby County, Tennessee probate court to end the conservatorship. He is also seeking back pay for any money the Tuohys earned from the agreement, which gave them control over his finances. He asserts that he just became aware of the truth behind the conservatorship about six months ago, in February 2023.
The Tuohys have argued that the conservatorship was the only way for them to bring Michael officially into their family since he was over 18 and they could not legally adopt him. According to USA TODAY, they say they will end the conservatorship. Their lawyer Steve Farese said that they Tuoys don’t need Oher’s money and the agreement was not a way to financially profit from their relationship with him. “They don’t need his money,” Farese said. “They’ve never needed his money. Mr. Tuohy sold his company for $220 million.”