The Blind Side's Tuohy Family Once Had A Questionable Appearance On Below Deck

Sandra Bullock fans know that she won an Oscar for her role-playing Leigh Anne Tuohy in the 2009 film "The Blind Side." It was based on the true story of Michael Oher, an underprivileged black teen who was often homeless or in the foster care system, who was taken in by the wealthy, white Tuohy family. In the movie, it's through the Tuohy family's support, particularly that of Leigh Anne, that Oher goes on to become a football star and first-round draft pick offensive lineman with the NFL. One particularly sweet scene in the film is the one where the Tuohys ask if Oher wants to be a part of their family.

But perhaps it wasn't all that sweet. In August 2023, Oher filed a legal petition against the Tuohys, saying that they lied about adopting him and that instead of adoption papers, he was made to sign conservatorship papers without a full understanding of what that meant, which led to them having the right to sell Oher's life story and making millions from it. Oher wants the conservatorship dissolved, he wants to know how much money the Tuohys made from his name and life story, and he wants to get his share of that money. With the legal filing, Sean Tuohy talking on an episode of "Below Deck" about how "The Blind Side" got made is getting renewed attention.

The Tuohy family didn't talk about getting Michael Oher's approval for The Blind Side

In 2017, Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy went on Bravo's "Below Deck," and a clip of Sean talking with the captain on the show about how "The Blind Side" came about has resurfaced. A reporter for People Magazine made a TikTok pointing out the conversation — if you want to see their episode in its entirety, this is how you can watch every episode of "Below Deck."

Sean said that he'd gone to school with Michael Lewis, who wrote the book that the film was based on and told a version of the story of Oher and the Tuohy family. Sean goes on to talk about the film itself, saying, "So I get a call — Steven Spielberg, Harvey Weinstein — I had to give them the rights to use our name, and I said, 'I'll give you the rights if I get to read the script and approve it or un-approve it.' So, sure enough, seven months later we get an envelope in the mail and it's the script of the movie." There's not any mention of whether Michael Oher got to approve the script nor is there any discussion of what Oher wanted done with his life story.

Michael Oher claims he didn't make any money from The Blind Side

And it doesn't sound like Michael Oher would have approved the script or handed over the rights to his name for "The Blind Side." In an interview with Salon, Oher said the movie "didn't show the work ethic that I put in to get to that point. [...] I was putting it in my mind that I was going to be something from 11 years old when I started this journey." The movie starts around the time Oher was 18 when he moved in with the Tuohy family, before he started his senior year. And it was then that Oher truly believed that the Tuohys were planning to legally adopt him, per CNN. In the legal filing, Oher said he didn't realize until earlier in 2023 that he hadn't been adopted by them.

The distinction between an adoption and a conservatorship is important. With a conservatorship — a concept fans of Britney Spears are familiar with — even after Oher was legally an adult, the Tuohys would be able to make business deals for him. Oher's legal filings claim that he didn't make any money from the film while the Tuohy family members all made millions, and they were able to do so because of the conservatorship, via ESPN. Lawyers for the Tuohys have said that Oher knew that he was in a conservatorship and that the lawsuit was a "shakedown," according to the Today Show.