Auburn head coach Hugh Freeze spoke publicly for the first time aboutagainst Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, lamenting over the situation and expressing his love for all parties involved. Freeze was Oher’s head coach at Briarcrest Christian School in Eads, Tennessee and went on to serve as an assistant coach at Ole Miss during Oher’s playing career with the Rebels. He also considers the Tuohy family to be close friends.
“I love Michael Oher,” Freeze told Auburn reporters Thursday. “He’s like part of our family. I love the Tuohys. I think it’s sad, and I certainly don’t claim to understand all the ins and outs of adoption, conservatory, all of that. But I know what I witnessed, and I witnessed a family that totally took in a young man. And I think without that, there is no story.”
Oher’s lawsuit, which was obtained by ESPN, claims the Tuohys entered Oher into a conservatorship while presenting it to be the same process as legal adoption. The lawsuit demanded an end to the Tuohys’ conservatorship of Oher, which has been in place since 2004, just months after his 18th birthday.
Entering Oher into a conservatorship allowed the Tuohys to oversee Oher’s financial life and enter into legal deals without his consent, though Oher was not a legal member of the family. In the case of ‘The Blind Side,’ the award-winning film grossed more than $300 million and earned actress Sandra Bullock an Oscar for her portrayal of Leigh Anne Tuohy.
Oher’s attorneys claim the four biological members of the Tuohy family were all compensated $225,000 and 2.5% of “defined net proceeds”.
The Tuohy family and their legal team called accusations “hurtful and absurd.” Attorneys for the family said Wednesday the $500,000 in proceeds from the film was split evenly among all five Tuohy family members — Oher included — at $100,000 per person.
“In reality, the Tuohys opened their home to Mr. Oher, offered him structure, support and, most of all, unconditional love,” Martin Singer, an attorney representing the Tuohys, said in a statement. “They have consistently treated him like a son and one of their three children. His response was to threaten them, including saying that he would plant a negative story about them in the press unless they paid him $15 million.
“They insisted that any money received be divided equally. And they have made good on that pledge,” Singer continued. “The evidence — documented in profit participation checks and studio accounting statements — is clear: over the years, the Tuohys have given Mr. Oher an equal cut of every penny received from ‘The Blind Side.’ 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.”
Freeze believes the Tuohy family still loves Oher and expressed hope for a potential reconciliation one day.
“I know if Michael called Sean (Tuohy) right now and said, ‘Let’s work this out,’ Sean and Leigh Anne would be there in a hurry to hug his neck and tell him he’s loved,” Freeze said. “I hope he feels that. And, certainly, I don’t claim to… until you walk in people’s shoes, I don’t claim to have all the answers to anything.”