Oher claims the family used him for profit.

A retired American football star whose rags-to-riches tale was adapted into an Oscar-winning Hollywood film has alleged the story is built on lies.

In 2009 movie The Blind Side, Michael Oher, a foster child in Tennessee, is adopted by a wealthy white couple and blooms into a star college athlete.

In a court filing, Mr Oher, now 37, alleges he was never adopted and was instead tricked into a conservatorship.

He alleges Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy made millions of dollars from his name.

Representatives for the Tuohy family and foundation did not respond to the BBC’s request for comment.

But Sean Tuohy told the Daily Memphian website that he was shocked by Mr Oher’s allegations.

He denied the Tuohys had made any money from the movie, only a share of proceeds from a book by author Michael Lewis, on which the movie was based.

“We’re devastated,” Mr Tuohy told the outlet. “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.”

Super Bowl’s Hollywood story

According to the 26-page petition filed on Monday in probate court in Shelby County, Tennessee, the Tuohys tricked Mr Oher into making them his conservators shortly after he turned 18.

Conservatorships are US court orders that appoint a parent or legal guardian to oversee the personal or financial affairs of someone incapable of fully managing their own affairs because of their age or disability.

The Tuohys took full control over Mr Oher’s “ability to negotiate for or enter any contract, despite the fact he was over 18 years of age and had no diagnosed physical or psychological disabilities”, he alleges.

Mr Oher had shown sporting potential from a young age. But having grown up in foster care and fallen behind in school, he was in need of support and often stayed overnight at classmates’ homes.

“Where other parents of Michael’s classmates saw Michael simply as a nice kid in need, [the Tuohys] saw something else: a gullible young man whose athletic talent could be exploited for their own benefit,” the document alleges.

The Tuohys allegedly told the teen they intended to legally adopt him and, soon after he had moved in with them in 2004, they presented him with what he believed to be adoption paperwork.

The couple lied that adopting someone over the age of 18 was called a conservatorship, the petition alleges.

“Michael Oher discovered this lie to his chagrin and embarrassment in February of 2023, when he learned that the Conservatorship to which he consented on the basis that doing so would make him a member of the Tuohy family, in fact provided him no familial relationship with the Tuohys,” the court filing alleges.

The Tuohys are further accused of using the conservatorship to enrich themselves at Mr Oher’s expense as he excelled on the gridiron, becoming a two-time All-American, an accolade for outstanding athletes, at the University of Mississippi.

As his life story was adapted into a book in 2006 and a movie in 2009, the co-conservators allegedly negotiated a contract that split profits and royalties between them and their two birth children, while leaving nothing to Mr Oher for a lucrative story “that would not have existed without him”.

The Blind Side went on to amass more than $300m (KSh. 43.1B) at the global box office and millions more in home video sales.

According to the court filing, the Tuohys negotiated a contract of $225,000 in addition to 2.5% of the film’s net proceeds for themselves and their biological children, while Mr Oher “received nothing”.

It asks the court to terminate the conservatorship, bar the Tuohys from continuing to profit from Mr Oher’s name and likeness, and establish a full accounting of what he is fairly owed.

The lawsuit accuses the Tuohys of a “gross and appalling” breach of fiduciary duty.

The Blind Side‘s release coincided with Mr Oher’s start in the National Football League, where he played eight seasons, most prominently with the Baltimore Ravens.

The film earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture and won Sandra Bullock, in the role of Leigh Anne Tuohy, her only Academy Award.

Mr Oher has long resented how the movie portrays him as mentally slow, which he felt had affected his career.

The ex-NFL star said in a statement: “I am disheartened by the revelation shared in the lawsuit today.

“This is a difficult situation for my family and me. I want to ask everyone to please respect our privacy at this time. For now, I will let the lawsuit speak for itself and will offer no further comment.”

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