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Michael Oher Could've Had Conservatorship Ended Years Before His Lawsuit

Former NFL offensive tackle Michael Oher reportedly could have ended his conservatorship at any point after 2011, long before his ongoing lawsuit against Sean and Leigh Ann Tuohy.

“It is still his desire that the Petitioners be recognized as his legal guardians at least until he reaches the age of 25 or until terminated by order of this court prior to that time,” a nine-page document obtained by the New York Post on Thursday (August 24) states. “He is in need of their assistance and guidance and continued to be dependent upon them … As he has reached the age of 18 he seeks to have them appointed as his conservators for all purposes.”

Oher, 37, and the Tuohys signed a document to make themselves his conservators, granting the couple legal legal authority to make business deals in his name, three months after he turned 18. Tennessee-based attorney Timothy Street, who specializes in conservatorship cases, said Oher could have "at any point" asked a judge to terminate the conservatorship agreement, specifically after signing his first NFL contract.

“If you had enough financial savvy to sign a multimillion-dollar contract with the NFL, you have to have enough savvy to know whether or not you want to remain in a conservatorship. They won’t let you sign a contract like that if you’re slobbering all over yourself,” Street said.

On August 16, attorney Randy Fishman who is representing the Tuohys, said the couple planned to enter into a consent order to end the conservatorship for Oher amid the ongoing lawsuit. On August 14, Oher filed a 14-page petition in Shelby County, Tennessee, probate court alleging that Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, who took him into their home while he was in high school, had never actually adopted him and, instead, tricked him into signing a document to make themselves his conservators, granting them legal authority to make business deals in his name, three months after he turned 18, ESPN reported.

Oher accuses the Tuohys of using their power as conservators to land deals in which their family -- including their two birth children -- earned millions in royalties from the Academy Award-winning film -- which grossed more than $300 million -- while he received zero compensation for movie "that would have not existed without him." The Tuoyhs continued to call the 37-year-old their adopted son publicly, which included promoting their foundation, as well as Leigh Anne Tuohy's work as both an author and motivational speaker in the years after the popular film's release.

"The lie of Michael's adoption is one upon which Co-Conservators Leigh Anne Tuohy and Sean Tuohy have enriched themselves at the expense of their Ward, the undersigned Michael Oher," the legal filing states via ESPN. "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."

Oher's petition asks the court to end the Tuohys' conservatorship and prohibit them from further capitalizing off his name and likeness, while also seeking the full share of profits he would have otherwise received, as well as unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

"Since at least August of 2004, Conservators have allowed Michael, specifically, and the public, generally, to believe that Conservators adopted Michael and have used that untruth to gain financial advantages for themselves and the foundations which they own or which they exercise control," the petition states. "All monies made in said manner should in all conscience and equity be disgorged and paid over to the said ward, Michael Oher."

Oher was a rising high school senior when he signed the conservatorship papers, which he claims the Tuohys specifically told him was no different from adoption papers at the time.

"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," Oher previously wrote in his 2011 memoir 'I Beat the Odds.'

Marty Singer, another attorney representing Sean and Leigh Ann Tuohy, issued a statement to TMZ Sports on Tuesday (August 15) claiming Oher came to the family before filing a 14-page petition in Shelby County, Tennessee, probate court and threatened to "plant a negative story about them in the press" if they didn't pay him.

“Even recently, when Mr. Oher started to threaten them about what he would do unless they paid him an eight-figure windfall, and, as part of that shakedown effort refused to cash the small profit checks from the Tuohys, they still deposited Mr. Oher’s equal share into a trust account they set up for his son," Singer wrote.

Singer also claimed Oher had previously been dropped as a client by other attorneys, however, “has finally found a willing enabler and filed this ludicrous lawsuit as a cynical attempt to drum up attention in the middle of his latest book tour.”

Sean Tuohy told the Daily Memphian that the family was "devastated" by the lawsuit and called the allegations "insulting." Tuohy, a former Ole Miss basketball player and booster, said the family drew up the conservatorship to ensure Oher could play football at Ole Miss as there would be a potential NCAA issue if he wasn't an actual member of the family.

"I sat Michael down and told him, ‘If you’re planning to go to Ole Miss — or even considering Ole Miss — we think you have to be part of the family. This would do that legally,'” Tuohy said via the Daily Memphian. “We contacted lawyers who had told us that we couldn’t adopt over the age of 18; the only thing we could do was to have a conservatorship. We were so concerned it was on the up-and-up that we made sure the biological mother came to court.”

Tuohy also denied Oher's claim that the family made a significant profit from the Academy Award-winning film, which the former NFL lineman said was kept from him.

“We didn’t make any money off the movie,” Touhy said via the Daily Memphian. “Well, Michael Lewis, the [author of the book on which the movie was based] gave us half of his share. Everybody in the family got an equal share, including Michael. It was about $14,000, each.”

Tuohy's son, Sean Tuohy Jr., also denied Oher's claims during an appearance on Barstool Sports' Barstool Radio program Monday.

“I’m gonna preface this by saying that I love Mike at 16, I love Mike at 37, and I [will] love him at 67,” he said of Oher. “There’s not gonna be any dossier or thing that happens that is going to make me say, ‘Screw that guy.’ That’s not the case."

The younger Tuohy argued against Oher's claim that he found out about the conservatorship in February 2023.

“I went through my family group texts today to see what had been said. There were things in like 2020 or 2021 that said, ‘If you guys give me this much, then I won’t go public with things’" Tuohy Jr. said.

“I think everybody learned about conservatorships in the past year because of Britney Spears, so maybe that’s the case,” he added.

Oher, a four-star high school prospect, committed to Ole Miss in 2005, which launched an NCAA investigation given the Tuohys' ties to the university as both alumni and donors. The Memphis native was selected by the Baltimore Ravens at No. 23 overall in the 2009 NFL Draft and spent his first five seasons with the franchise, which included winning Super Bowl XLVII.

Oher spent the 2014 season with the Tennessee Titans and the 2015 and 2016 seasons with the Carolina Panthers prior to his retirement.

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