BALTIMORE (AP) — Michael Oher emerged to cheers from the dozens of people lined up to get his newest book and addressed the crowd briefly before taking his seat.
Beyond that, he didn’t have much to say.
The former NFL player whose life story became the inspiration for the Oscar-nominated movie “The Blind Side,” greeted fans, signed his recently released memoir and took pictures at a book event Monday evening but maintained his media silence a week since suing to end his conservatorship.
He declined to speak to reporters, only making a 90-second introduction to the assembled crowd in line at 6 p.m. A bookstore employee advised reporters in attendance of that before Oher emerged on the patio from inside.
Oher, who played his first five pro seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, spoke carefully to fans, telling some he couldn’t say much given the lawsuit and with reporters present.
“This book, it means a lot to me,” Oher said during brief remarks at the start of the event at The Ivy Bookshop. “Basically, it’s a playbook on life and how I continue to fight back and when your back’s against the wall. That’s how I’ve felt all my life.”
Oher filed a petition Aug. 14 in a Tennessee probate court accusing Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy of lying to him by having him sign papers making them his conservators rather than his adoptive parents nearly two decades ago. Oher is asking for the conservatorship to be terminated, a full accounting of the money earned off his name and story to be done and to be paid what he is due, with interest.
He accused the Tuohys of falsely representing themselves as his adoptive parents, saying he discovered in February the conservatorship agreed to in 2008 was not the arrangement he thought it was — and that it provided him no familial relationship to them.
Oher, who has never been a fan of the movie about his life, asked in the petition that the Tuohys be sanctioned and required to pay both compensatory and punitive damages determined by the court.
The Tuohys last week called the claims they enriched themselves at his expense outlandish, hurtful and absurd and part of a “shakedown” by Oher. Lawyers representing the couple also said the Tuohys would enter into a consent order to end the conservatorship they say Oher was aware of long before this year.
Oher played eight NFL seasons after being the 23rd pick in the 2009 draft out of Mississippi. The offensive lineman started 110 games and won the Super Bowl with the Ravens, also playing for Tennessee and Carolina. He last played in 2016 and was released by the Panthers in 2017.
The book he was promoting Monday is called, “When Your Back’s Against the Wall: Fame, Football and Lessons Learned Through a Lifetime of Adversity.” It came out earlier this month.
“My most important lesson in the playbook right here is looking yourself in the mirror and if you’re going through anything, I don’t care what it is, you have every answer that you need to get over what’s going on,” Oher told the crowd. “I just want to thank you all for coming. I really appreciate it.”
He ended those comments with, “And, go Ravens!”
Oher is the latest prominent figure to question a conservatorship, nearly two years since supporters cheered Britney Spears being freed from her arrangement. The ruling came after Spears publicly demanded the end of the conservatorship, which had prevented her from making her own medical, financial and personal decisions since 2008.
Cover Photo: Former NFL football player Michael Oher, whose story became the inspiration for the Oscar-nominated movie “The Blind Side,” signs books at an event for his new memoir at a store in Baltimore, Monday, Aug. 21, 2023. Last week, Oher sued Sean and Leah Anne Tuohy to lift his conservatorship with them. (AP Photo/Stephen Whyno)