The retired NFL pro and subject of 'The Blind Side' dropped bombshell accusations against the family regarding his conservatorship.
In an exclusive interview with ET, the Tuohy family's attorney, Steve Farese, Sr., says Sean and Leigh Ann are handling the drama "like a death in the family."
"There are so many emotions that would fit," Farese tells ET's Nischelle Turner. "It's a family being fragmented. Yes, the negative publicity, of course, hurts -- as anyone that has a modicum of dignity is going to feel that heat -- but their biggest concern is, 'What's going on?'"
He continues, "'Why,' they ask, 'do you really believe that we would cheat you out of your money?'"
The 37-year-old former NFL pro filed a lawsuit on Monday that alleges that Sean and Leigh Anne tricked him into a conservatorship and lied about his adoption status when he was 18. Oher claims in his petition that the Tuohy family generated millions of dollars off the book The Blind Side by bestselling author Michael Lewis and its film adaptation starring Sandra Bullock, Quinton Aaron, and Tim McGraw, both of which carried Oher's name and likeness. Oher claims that he himself has received nothing off of the book or Oscar-nominated movie. The Tuohys will continue to profit from his name if the conservatorship isn't ended, he argues.
"This was the conservatorship of a person," Farese tells ET. "This was not a conservatorship of his finances."
Farese claims that the main function of the conservatorship was to assist Oher with his admission to Ole Miss: University of Mississippi, where the athlete went on to earn All-American honors.
"No money ever went into a conservatorship," he says. "The Tuohy family never had any say-so in his contracts."
Farese doubles down that the arrangement "has not inhibited [Oher] in any way. He will not be able to show that it cost him money, or he wasn't able to do something."
Oher claims he only learned details of the conservatorship in February. He said that he was asked to sign papers under the belief that it was part of the "adoption process," but that they were actually conservatorship papers that would strip away his legal rights. The documents, filed in 2004, say the Tuohys "have all powers of attorney to act on his behalf" and that Oher "shall not be allowed to enter into any contracts or bind himself without the direct approval of his conservators."
"When you adopt a child, you bring him into your home, you treat him as your own," Farese says. "You support him financially, emotionally, every way possible. In his sporting activities, you go to the games. You treat him the same as you do your other children. So, it cuts both ways."
He continues, "Yeah, [Oher] could feel like, 'I've been adopted.' The truth of the matter is they were treating him as if he were adopted."
The 14-page petition filed in Shelby County, Tennessee, probate court, by Oher on Monday, alleges that the Tuohys used their power as conservators to negotiate a deal with 20th Century Fox that paid them and their biological children -- Collins Tuohy and Sean Tuohy Jr. -- millions of dollars in royalties from The Blind Side, which earned more than $330 million. The petition alleges that all four members of the Tuohy family were paid $225,000 for the film plus 2.5% of the film's proceeds.
Oher claims that he "at no time willingly or knowingly" signed said contract, which gives away the "perpetual, unconditional, and exclusive" rights to his name, likeness, voice, appearance, personality, personal experiences, incidents, situations, and events taken from his life with no payment. The document has a signature that appears to be his, but the petition claims "nobody ever presented this document to him with any explanation."
In an interview with the Daily Memphian, Sean Tuohy said the family is "devastated" by Oher's claims.
"It’s upsetting to think we would make money off any of our children. But we’re going to love Michael at 37 just like we loved him at 16," he said.
After initially claiming they didn't make "any money" off the hit film, Sean said of The Blind Side, "Well, Michael Lewis (the author of the book The Blind Side) gave us half of his share. Everybody in the family got an equal share, including Michael. It was about $14,000 each."
He insisted, "We were never offered money; we never asked for money. My money is well-documented; you can look up how much I sold my company for."
Sean, who owned a chain of fast food restaurants, reportedly sold his franchises for a total of $213 million.
"The last thing I needed was 40 grand from a movie," Sean maintained. "I will say it’s upsetting that people would think I would want to make money off any of my children."
The Tuohys have continued to call Oher their son and Oher says they have used the assertion to promote their foundation and Leigh Anne's work as a motivational speaker and author.