Michael Oher Called Tuohys His ‘Conservators’ in 2011 Book, Claims They Said It’s ‘Pretty Much’ Adoption

Michael Oher referred to Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy as his “legal conservators” in his 2011 memoir, ESPN reports, seemingly counter to his claims that he only learned of the conservatorship earlier this year.

In I Beat The Odds: From Homelessness, to The Blind Side, and Beyond, the former NFL player wrote about legally joining the Tuohy family, and while he does call them his “conservators,” Oher also says Leigh Anne and Sean told him it would make them “pretty much the exact same thing as ‘adoptive parents.’ ”

Oher writes that the couple, who took him in while he was in high school, “had already assumed responsibility for me as guardians, which allowed them to sign my school permission slips and take me to medical appointments.”

He continued, “It kind of felt like a formality, as I’d been a part of the family for more than a year at that point. Since I was already over the age of eighteen and considered an adult by the state of Tennessee, Sean and Leigh Anne would be named as my ‘legal conservators.’ They explained to me that it means pretty much the exact same thing as ‘adoptive parents,’ but that the laws were just written in a way that took my age into account. Honestly, I didn’t care what it was called. I was just happy that no one could argue that we weren’t legally what we already knew was real: We were a family.”

Oher’s disclosure via his 12-year-old book is counter to the petition he filed to end the conservatorship on Monday, where he claimed he found out in February 2023 that the Tuohys never legally adopted him, “much to his chagrin and embarrassment.” 

In the petition, Oher alleges they tricked him into signing paperwork that placed him in a conservatorship at 18 years old. The 2004 conservatorship filing stated that he “shall not be allowed to enter into any contracts or bind himself without the direct approval of his conservators,” according to Oher’s filing.

Michael Oher #73 of the Carolina Panthers watches play against the Arizona Cardinals during the NFC Championship Game at Bank Of America Stadium on January 24, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Scott Cunningham/Getty

Oher also alleged in his petition that the Tuohys — including their two birth children, Collins Tuohy and Sean Tuohy Jr. — were paid $225,000 for The Blind Side plus 2.5% of the film’s proceeds and did not include him.

A source close to the film tells PEOPLE the Tuohys have received approximately $700,000 total in rights, payments and profits, which was intended to be divided between the family members — Sean, Leigh Anne, their two biological children and Oher. 

In a Wednesday press conference, lawyers for Leigh Anne and Sean said that the family is “devastated” by Oher’s allegations and are willing to release him from his conservatorship.

“If that’s what he wants to do is terminate it, we’re glad to do so,” said attorney Randall Fishman. “As a matter of fact, it is our intent to offer to enter into a consent order as it relates to the conservatorship, and then if they have other issues, we’ll deal with them.”

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When asked why Leigh Anne and Sean created a conservatorship for Oher rather than adopting him, as they have previously claimed, Fishman said, “It didn’t make any difference to the Tuohys,” and that they believed the conservatorship would help with NCAA regulations.

Oher’s representatives tell PEOPLE that they intend to seek justice in court.

“We continue to stand with Michael and the statement he released. We also concur with his attorney, Don Barrett, we believe that justice will be served in a courtroom where cases are based on facts,” the statement obtained by PEOPLE read.

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