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Michael Oher embraces support from fans at Baltimore book signing after lawsuit: ‘It’s a great feeling’

By Abigail Gruskin, The Baltimore Sun
Published: August 22, 2023, 8:11am
3 Photos
FILE - Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher sits on the beach during the first half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in Baltimore, Sunday, Oct. 24, 2010.
FILE - Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher sits on the beach during the first half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in Baltimore, Sunday, Oct. 24, 2010. Michael Oher, the former NFL tackle known for the movie "The Blind Side," filed a petition Monday 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.(AP Photo/Nick Wass, File) Photo Gallery

BALTIMORE — On Monday night in the Mount Washington neighborhood, Baltimore Ravens alum Michael Oher shook hands with football fanatics and hugged people who had waited in line at The Ivy Bookshop to have him sign a copy of his latest book, “When Your Back’s Against the Wall.”

Outside on the bookstore’s back patio, Oher’s fans expressed their support for him in the wake of a lawsuit he filed one week ago accusing Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, who have been portrayed as his adoptive parents, of deceiving him into signing conservatorship papers. One lawyer for the Tuohy family called Oher’s claims “hurtful and absurd,” and another later said that they intend to end the conservatorship, The Associated Press reported.

“It was great just to see people coming out in support and being back in Baltimore, it’s a great feeling,” Oher told The Baltimore Sun at Monday night’s book event that drew dozens of people.

“The people tell me everything that I need to know, and that support … that’s always a great thing,” Oher added, saying that those he spoke with are “fans of my journey, the things that I’ve gone through and continue to fight … always just coming out on the other side.”

Oher declined to speak about the lawsuit, referring questions to his lawyer.

But meeting with people and signing books, Oher appeared joyful.

He fist-bumped Quinn O’Donnell, 11, who said he enjoyed “The Blind Side” and plays football as a middle linebacker and running back for the Severna Park Green Hornets.

“He said you gotta be tough to play those positions,” O’Donnell, who attends Severna Park Middle, said of the conversation he had with Oher.

Isa O’Donnell, Quinn’s mother, said she only learned about Oher’s lawsuit Monday evening.

“This is him rising above,” said O’Donnell, a Severna Park resident and Ravens season ticket holder.

Attending the book signing so soon after Oher made national headlines was “coincidental” for Nancy Bookoff, who lives and works as a registered nurse in Baltimore County. She and her husband, David Bookoff, picked up a copy of Oher’s book for themselves and for their adult son.

“I believe Michael’s telling the truth,” Nancy, 61, said.

Others, like Sam Noel, who lives down the street from the bookstore, said he hadn’t known that Oher planned to publish a book. He showed up to the signing with his girlfriend, Christina Hayes, after reading about Oher’s lawsuit.

Hayes, 24, said she now plans to keep up with Oher’s story as it continues to unfold.

“It just sucks if he was taken advantage of,” she said. “The movie came out so long ago, too, so it’s so interesting that everything’s coming out now.”

Roughly 70 people turned out for the book signing event that started at 6 p.m., according to Hannah Fenster, the Ivy Bookshop’s events manager.

Todd Allen, 54, drove from Dover, Pennsylvania, to meet Oher, whose former University of Mississippi football coach, Frank Wilson, was a student of Allen’s at Geneva College in Pennsylvania.

Of the legal drama between Oher and the Tuohy family, Allen said he hopes “it ends well for all involved.”

“It’s always disappointing when you see relationships broken and fractured. You hope that healing can come,” said Allen, now vice president for diversity affairs at Messiah University in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.

“However it turns out, it doesn’t diminish Michael in my eyes, who he is, what he represents.”

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