Michael Oher Image credit: KENS 5 Youtube screenshot

Michael Oher Is a Lesson for Black Athletes on Narratives and Rights


On Monday, ESPN dropped a bombshell story on Michael Oher of NFL and “The Blind Side” fame.

Oher, whose life story was the basis for the 2009 award-winning film, petitioned a Tennessee court with allegations that the film’s central story was actually a lie.

And that lie was that the Tuoys had actually adopted Oher.

Despite what we all saw in the feel-good film, Oher claims the couple tricked him into signing a document when he turned 18 that made them his conservators, which gave them the legal right to make business deals in his name.

Deals, according to Oher, that he was never compensated for. Meanwhile, the Tuoys reportedly received millions in royalties from the film.

“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,” stated the legal filing. “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 Tuohys responded with shock.

“We’re devastated,” said Sean Tuohy. “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.”

Marty Singer, the Tuohy’s lawyer, stated this wasn’t the first time Oher made this claim.

“Unbeknownst to the public, Mr. Oher has actually attempted to run this play several times before- but it seems that numerous other lawyers stopped representing him once they saw the evidence and learned the truth.”

Sean Tuohy went on to say that the family didn’t make any money off the movie and only received $14,000 from Michael Lewis, who authored “The Blind Side” book. He also stated that the family would do “whatever Michael wants,” including ending the conservatorship.

While the case plays out in court and in the media, this is a lesson for Black athletes in particular, one that teaches they must take ownership of their rights and narrative.

For too long we’ve witnessed the ways in which Black athletes, especially Black male athletes, are represented in the media.

We’ve heard coded language such as “thug” and “posse” and references to animals used when describing Black athletes.

Sometimes, the attempt to humiliate or belittle is more subtle.

Continue reading over at First and Pen.

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