By Jennifer Henderson and Eric Levenson, CNN
(CNN) — Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, who along with former NFL player Michael Oher were portrayed in the Oscar-winning movie “The Blind Side,” say they “stand ready, willing and able to terminate the conservatorship [over Oher] by consent at any time,” according to court documents filed Thursday in a Tennessee court.
In August, Oher filed a petition to end the Tuohys’ conservatorship over him alleging the Tuohys told him they were going to adopt him, but instead filed a conservatorship that kept millions of dollars from him, CNN previously reported.
In their response to Oher’s petition, the Tuohys said they “vehemently deny” Oher’s claims that they were “enriching themselves at the expense of their Ward [Oher].”
They say Oher never asked to terminate the conservatorship, either verbally or in writing, and “they have always acted in the best interest” of Oher.
Shortly before turning 11 in 1996, Oher became a ward of the state of Tennessee, and soon after began living on the streets.
A friend’s father helped get him into a school where he began playing football. Oher began occasionally staying with the Tuohys during the summer following his junior year.
Oher’s petition says soon after he moved in with the family in 2004, the Tuohys gave him legal papers he thought were necessary for the adoption.
The Tuohys also said in their filing they “vehemently deny” telling Oher they “intended to legally adopt him.”
They also said they pursued conservatorship over Oher as an “opportunity” for him to play college football “when the NCAA made it clear that the only way he [Oher] could attend the Ole Miss if he was part of the Tuohy family in some fashion. Conservatorship was the tool chosen to accomplish this goal.”
“There was never an intent to adopt him,” the Tuohy’s response states.
The Tuohys say it is “demonstrably false” that Oher only found out in February 2023 that he wasn’t adopted. They say in the document that Oher said in his 2011 book “I Beat the Odds” that he knew the Tuohys were his conservators.
Oher accused the Tuohys of representing themselves as his adoptive parents publicly and for their benefit. The Tuohys said they were referring to Oher as a son “in the colloquial sense and they have never intended that reference to be viewed with legal implication.”
The 2006 book “The Blind Side: Evolution of the Game” by Michael Lewis covers parts of Oher’s life story, and a movie adaptation of the same name was released in 2009.
The Tuohys say all the money received from “The Blind Side” movie has been split equally between Sean and Leigh Anne, their two children and Oher – 20% each. The Tuohys said Oher’s share was paid to them, they paid the taxes for a period of time but wrote Oher a check for his full 20% share.
Oher’s attorney, Don Barrett, acknowledged in a statement to CNN Friday that “the Tuohys have filed a response within the deadline required by Mike’s Petition.”
“We look forward to Mike finally getting his day in court, where we are confident that the truth will prevail,” Barrett added.
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