What Michael Oher Wrote About Tuohy Family Conservatorship in His 2011 Book

The retired NFL pro addressed the legal arrangement when writing his memoir.

Michael Oher previously addressed his conservatorship with the Tuohy family in his own 2011 memoir, I Beat The Odds: From Homelessness, to The Blind Side, and Beyond. A passage from the book has resurfaced this week after the 37-year-old former NFL pro filed a lawsuit against Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, claiming that the couple tricked him into a conservatorship and lied about his adoption status when he was 18.

In his book, as shared by TMZ on Thursday, Oher wrote specifically about his understanding of the legal arrangement he had with the Tuohy family.

"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,'" Oher said. "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."

It is worth noting that, according to Tennessee law, an adult may legally adopt another adult over the age of 18 as long as both parties are consenting. 

Also according to Tennessee law, a conservatorship is defined as "a proceeding in which a court removes the decision-making powers and duties, in whole or in part, in a least restrictive manner, from a person with a disability who lacks capacity to make decisions in one or more important areas and places responsibility for one or more of those decisions in a conservator or co-conservators."

In Oher's lawsuit, filed Monday in Tennessee court, he claims to have 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."

Oher also claims in his petition that the Tuohy family generated millions of dollars off the book The Blind Side by best-selling author Michael Lewis and its film adaptation starring Sandra Bullock 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 the Oscar-nominated movie. The Tuohys will continue to profit from his name if the conservatorship isn't ended, he argues.

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 percent 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."

Meanwhile, an attorney for the Tuohys, Steve Farese, Sr., tells ET that there was no financial aspect to the conservatorship. 

"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."

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.