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Whitlock: Michael Oher is every bit as broken as the media members selling his ‘Blind Side’ lie
Streeter Lecka / Staff, Jeffrey Mayer / Contributor | Getty Images

Whitlock: Michael Oher is every bit as broken as the media members selling his ‘Blind Side’ lie

The 2009 movie “The Blind Side” does not state or imply that the Tuohy family adopted Michael Oher. Neither does Michael Lewis’ 2006 book that inspired the film that won Sandra Bullock an Oscar.

In 2011, when Michael Oher published his first memoir, “I Beat the Odds,” he stated directly that the Tuohys secured a conservatorship when he was a senior in high school. He wrote that Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy insisted that he maintain a relationship with his biological mother and 11 siblings. Oher wrote that his mother participated in the procedures necessary for the Tuohys to become conservators.

Why on earth is Michael Oher pretending he only recently discovered that the Tuohy family didn’t adopt him? Why are members of the media going along with Oher’s effort to shake down the Tuohy family for cash under the pretense that they lied to him and exploited him for profit?

Yesterday, Oher, a former NFL offensive lineman, filed a petition in a Tennessee court arguing that the Tuohys earned millions of dollars from “The Blind Side” and the false belief that they “adopted” him. He claims that he earned nothing from the movie and that the Tuohys owe him millions. This made headlines across corporate and social media. Twitter feeds overflowed with allegations that the Tuohys had profited from Hollywood’s love affair with the “white savior trope.”

None of this made any sense. So here’s what I did: 1) I read Oher’s 2011 book, “I Beat the Odds.” 2) I rewatched the movie “The Blind Side.”

I wanted to know what was being said a decade ago, long before social media had made it wildly popular to decide all conflicts based on racial dynamics.

Michael Oher is black. The Tuohys are white. “The Blind Side” is a real-life, feel-good movie about a wealthy white couple providing a home for a homeless, black teenage boy in Memphis. The movie was an offshoot of Michael Lewis’ book, which was an exploration of the importance of the left tackle position in the aftermath of linebacker Lawrence Taylor’s career terrorizing quarterbacks.

Lewis, a childhood friend of Sean Tuohy, made Oher’s unusual relationship with the Tuohys a part of the book. Sensing an opportunity to make a profit, Hollywood producers zeroed in on Oher and the Tuohys and ignored Lewis’ larger narrative about Lawrence Taylor and left tackles.

It was a smart decision. “The Blind Side” rocked the box office, earning $300 million.

For the most part, the movie is accurate. It does not lie about the Tuohys adopting Oher.

Midway through the two-hour film, in a quest to secure then 17-year-old Oher a driver’s license, Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy seek to become Oher’s legal guardians. A state social worker informs Leigh Anne that she can obtain guardianship of Oher without the permission of Oher’s biological mother. Unsatisfied, Leigh Anne hunts down the boy’s mother and visits her in the ghetto. The two chat about Michael’s father and whether Ms. Oher wants to see her son.

In the next scene, the entire Tuohy family sits with Michael at a dining room table. Sean tells Michael that they would like to become Michael’s “legal guardian.” Michael asks what that means. Leigh Anne replies: “We wanna know if you’d like to become part of this family.”

What Michael Oher is doing to the Tuohy family is despicable. He’s telling an obvious lie that he knows most of the media will be too afraid to question because of the racial dynamics. Plus, the media is lazy. It’s easier to repeat Oher’s allegations than to question and/or research the legitimacy of them.

It’s also easier just to feel sorry for Oher. He’s broken. The first 15 years of his life are a tragedy. That’s not my opinion. Read his book. His mother was addicted to crack cocaine and birthed a dozen children with a variety of men. Oher and his siblings would routinely come home and find the door locked, their mother nowhere to be found. She would disappear for days, ingesting cocaine with friends. Her kids, as young as 14 months, would be left locked out of their apartment, forced to beg for food and a couch to sleep on. This was a regular pattern.

That type of neglect causes lifelong trauma. Oher met his father but had no relationship with him. His grandmother hated him. State social workers eventually intervened. Oher moved from foster home to foster home, school to school, from one friend’s couch to the next.

At the time of his 2011 book and after being dissatisfied with his portrayal in “The Blind Side,” Oher reached the conclusion that he wasn’t getting nearly enough credit for his rags-to-NFL-riches story. In “I Beat the Odds,” Oher argued that at age 7 he watched Michael Jordan slay the Phoenix Suns in the 1993 NBA Finals and he crafted a plan to become a professional athlete.

Seven-year-old Michael Oher saved Michael Oher, not the Tuohys or anyone else. The Tuohys and everyone else simply assisted Oher in executing his plan. He planned to be the next Michael Jordan. He wound up being a solid eight-year NFL lineman.

For years, he’s complained that “The Blind Side” made him look stupid, like he couldn’t read before tutors in high school taught him. He has expressed frustration that the movie suggested the Tuohys’ young son taught him football and that Leigh Anne coerced him into being aggressive.

Michael Oher wants credit. I get it. He wants to be the star and hero of his own movie. Most people do.

Oher lacks self-awareness, humility, and, quite possibly, intelligence. Making $34 million as an average professional athlete will certainly create some delusion.

At 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds, Oher fancied himself as the next Michael Jordan or Charles Barkley. He had to be talked into focusing on football. He thinks hatching the scheme to be a pro athlete at age 7 was a sign of brilliance and vision. It’s a ghetto dream that 99% of the time leads to failure. Where would Oher be today had he stopped growing at 5'9" like most American men?

Where would he be without the Tuohys? They provided the stable home where a tutor could come work with him every day so he could catch up academically. By his own admission in “I Beat the Odds,” Oher never attended school regularly until he enrolled at Briarcrest Christian School as a sophomore.

Oher is so arrogant and delusional that he believes that his natural intellect would have been developed regardless of circumstance. It’s a naive worldview.

He’s still naive. He believes this desperate attempt to shake down the family who welcomed him into their home is a good look and is going to lead to a financial windfall.

It’s not. Eventually reporters and pundits will have to deal with the truth. The Tuohys were wealthy when they took legal guardianship of Oher. They sold their family business for $200 million. They had no financial motive to exploit Oher. They exercised no control over his professional career.

The Tuohys are longtime friends of super agent Jimmy Sexton. They wanted Oher to sign with Sexton when he left Ole Miss for the NFL. Oher chose a different agent. He wrote about the decision in “I Beat the Odds.” Months later, when it became obvious that he made the wrong choice, he cut a deal with Sexton.

This whole exploitative “conservatorship” nonsense isn’t exactly Britney Spears’ parents controlling her money. The Tuohys have and always had more money than Michael Oher.

They also have more class, decency, and compassion than Oher. Sean Tuohy says he still loves Michael Oher. Tuohy knows Oher is every bit as emotionally broken as the first day the overgrown teenager slept on their couch.

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Jason Whitlock

Jason Whitlock

BlazeTV Host

Jason Whitlock is the host of “Fearless with Jason Whitlock” and a columnist for Blaze News. As an award-winning journalist, he is proud to challenge the groupthink mandated by elites and explores conversations at the crossroads of culture, faith, sports, and comedy.
@WhitlockJason →