The Blind Side may have won Sandra Bullock an Oscar, but the film itself was a less-than-stellar one. Bullock’s win came on the backs of criticism for portraying a character riddled with white saviour complex even though the film was based on the life of Michael Oher, a former NFL tackle.
Directed by John Lee Hancock, the movie starred Bullock as Leigh Anne Tuohy, with Quinton Aaron portraying Oher. The film also starred Tim McGraw as Sean Tuohy, along with Kathy Bates and Lily Collins. It was based on the book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis.
The Blind Side follows the life of Michael Oher, an underprivileged teenager taken in by the affluent Tuohy family. The Tuohys, led by matriarch Leigh Anne Tuohy, recognised Michael’s potential as a football player and provided him with the support and opportunities he needed to succeed both academically and athletically.
The film portrayed the Tuohy family as a crucial support system for Oher, as he learnt to navigate high school while pursuing a career in professional football. But like most Hollywood biopics that tend to fictionalise its core characters and stories with rosy brushstrokes, the true story behind The Blind Side is rife with contention. Oher had mentioned his displeasure with how the film depicted his subpar intelligence and his initial lack of knowledge about football. But the real skeleton came tumbling out of the closet recently.
Michael Oher’s shocking allegations against the Tuohy family
The real-life drama behind The Blind Side took an unexpected turn when Michael Oher filed a lawsuit against the Tuohy family this year. In August 2023, Oher claimed that the Tuohys never formally adopted him—as depicted in the film—but instead established a conservatorship, granting them legal authority to make business deals in his name.
Oher alleged that the Tuohys, particularly Sean and Leigh Anne, withheld financial information from him for 19 years, failing to provide an accurate account of the revenue generated from the film and other ventures related to his life story. The lawsuit accused the Tuohys of using Oher for their business and marketing ventures without his informed consent.
He claimed that as conservators, the Tuohys exploited their authority, securing a deal that granted them and their two children substantial royalties (millions, as per the allegations) from The Blind Side film, leaving Oher without any financial compensation.
In response to Oher’s lawsuit, the Tuohys’ attorney, Martin D. Singer, accused the former NFL player of attempting to extort $15 million from the couple, as per the LA Times. Oher’s legal team filed a motion in Tennessee probate court to compel accounting from the Tuohys, alleging a failure to uphold their fiduciary duties.
The motion claimed that Oher was kept in the dark about the full extent of contracts negotiated on his behalf, particularly the 2006 deal with 20th Century Fox for the film adaptation of Michael Lewis’ book. Oher contends that he never permitted the Tuohys to use his name, likeness, and image without his explicit consent.
Did Michael Oher get out of his conservatorship?
On September 29th, the judge overseeing the case terminated Michael Oher’s conservatorship, a decision the Tuohys claimed they were content with. Oher sought an injunction to prevent the Tuohys from using his name and likeness, along with compensation for his share of profits and damages.