LOS ANGELES. – 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 conservator-ship.
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.”
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. – BBC.