OXFORD, Mississippi — The impact of the news cycle didn’t seem to reach inside the bookstore and past the pocket calendars, cookbooks and Southern classics to the table where Michael Oher sat Tuesday evening signing books.
But that lasted only until the end of the night, when the former football player was approached by media members for a response to the Tuohy family’s claim that Oher asked for an eight-figure payment to keep him from planting “a negative story about them in the press.”.
The Tuohys, in a statement issued Tuesday, also alleged that Oher’s petition, which was filed in Shelby County, Tennessee probate court Monday, was not his first attempt to bring legal action against them.
MORE:’The Blind Side’ subject Michael Oher’s blockbuster lawsuit against Tuohy family explained.
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Among the central themes of Oher’s petition was that he was never adopted by Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, as depicted in the hit movie “The Blind Side.” Oher – who was an All-American lineman at Ole Miss and played eight seasons in the NFL, winning one Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens after the 2012 season – alleged he was tricked into signing a conservatorship that the Tuohys used to siphon his share of profits made from “The Blind Side.”.
The Tuohys have denied his claims.
As he was ushered out the back door at Off Square Books, Oher said he would not be issuing a statement to the media and that they should speak to his lawyer.
It was a scheduled appearance to sign copies of his newest book: “When Your Back’s Against the Wall: Fame, Football and Lessons Learned through a Lifetime of Adversity.”.
“Thank you, everybody, for coming and buying a book and supporting me,” Oher said after arriving. “So, Hotty Toddy and let’s get it going.”.
For more than two hours, Oher worked his Sharpie on hundreds of copies of the new book, alongside the odd copy of his first volume – “I Beat the Odds: From Homelessness, to The Blind Side, and Beyond” – and, yes, a few copies that fans brought of “The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game,” by Michael Lewis.
Randy Wadkins, 58, of Iuka, Mississippi, arrived covered in Ravens gear and said the news of the week had no impact on his decision to come.
“In fact, I actually came two weeks ago because there was a misunderstanding two weeks ago about which Tuesday (the book signing) was,” Wadkins said with a laugh.
Wadkins said he spent his time with Oher asking him what it was like to be in the locker room with former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.
Marilyn Lawson, 57, of Oxford, also said she had planned to attend before the news of the recent controversy broke.
“I’ve always been a fan of his, his story,” she said. “You get both books, read both of ’em and see what you think.”.
Lawson and Wadkins were part of a line that snaked out the door of the bookstore and stretched to the opposite end of the block before twisting around the store.
Plenty approached wearing Ole Miss gear. Others sported Ravens garb. There was even a bit of Southern Miss representation.
Oher thanked just about everyone who approached the table for their support, signing their books and getting photos taken. He expressed his appreciation to those who reached the signing table near the end of the session for waiting so long. He even presented one fan with crutches and a boot on her foot some treatment advice.
David Eckert covers Ole Miss for the Clarion Ledger. Email him at [email protected] or reach him on Twitter @davideckert98.