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O.J. Simpson Dead at 76, From Celebrity to Alleged Murderer

O.J. Simpson Dead at 76, From Celebrity to Alleged Murderer

Orenthal James Simpson, the former NFL star player, actor, and central figure in the infamous “trial of the century,” has passed away at the age of 76 after a battle with prostate cancer. His death marks the end of a life that spanned triumphs on the football field, Hollywood fame, and a legal saga that captivated the nation.

Born on July 9, 1947, in San Francisco, Simpson’s journey unfolded against a backdrop of athletic prowess, celebrity, and tragedy. 

In 1968 Simpson became an instant star at the University of Southern California (USC), leading the nation in rushing yards and scoring touchdowns. His Heisman Trophy win that year remains legendary, with a record-breaking margin of victory.

Drafted as the No. 1 overall pick by the Buffalo Bills in 1969, Simpson went on to break records, including becoming the first player to rush for 2,000 yards in a single season in 1973.

The sportsman married Nicole Brown in 1985, and they had two children. Their marriage ended in 1992, just over a year before Nicole’s tragic death.

On June 12, 1994, Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman were found brutally stabbed outside her Los Angeles condominium,

On the night of June 12, 1994, Brown Simpson and her family had dinner at a Los Angeles restaurant. Ron Goldman, a waiter at that restaurant, went to Brown Simpson's home that night to return glasses her mother had left behind.

Around midnight, Brown Simpson and Goldman were found stabbed to death at Brown Simpson's home.

Simpson was in Los Angeles the evening of June 12 but took a late flight that night to Chicago. When he returned to Los Angeles the next day, he was interviewed by police, but not immediately arrested.

Simpson quickly became the prime suspect, rather than surrendering to police, Simpson embarked on a televised car chase in a white Ford Bronco, watched by an estimated 95 million viewers. The slow-speed pursuit ended at his Brentwood home, where he was arrested.

The 1995 murder trial unfolded with intense media scrutiny. Prosecutors argued domestic violence (Simpson was known to be a controlling and abusive husband) as a motive, while Simpson’s defense team, including Johnnie Cochran, emphasized mishandled evidence and alleged racism within the Los Angeles police department.

Perhaps the trial’s defining moment came when Simpson struggled to put on a pair of gloves believed to be worn by the killer. His theatrical demonstration and the famous phrase, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit,” left an indelible mark, on October 3, 1995, the jury acquitted Simpson of the murders.

Simpson wearing a pair of gloves worn by the killer

His release was met with mixed reactions, but the legal drama was far from over.

In 1997, a civil trial found Simpson liable for wrongful death and battery, ordering him to pay $33.5 million to the victims’ families, 

In September 2007, Simpson led a group of men into a Las Vegas hotel and casino to steal what he claims was his own sports memorabilia at gunpoint.

Simpson was charged with a number of felony counts, including kidnapping and armed robbery, In 2008, Simpson was found guilty in the botched robbery and sentenced to up to 33 years in prison.

OJ Simpson stands in court with attorney Yale Galanter during his sentencing at the Clark County Regional Justice Center, Dec. 5, 2008, in Las Vegas.

As Judge Jackie Glass prepared to sentence him, she said to Simpson, “Earlier in this case, at a bail hearing, I asked, I said, to Mr. Simpson, I didn’t know if he was arrogant or ignorant or both. And during the trial and through this proceeding, I got this answer, and it was both.”

"That was not a, 'Oh, just give me my stuff back, I want my stuff.' That was, 'Nobody leave the room.' That was actually a very violent event. ... At least one gun was drawn. The potential for harm to occur in that room was tremendous. When you take a gun with you and you take men with you, to show, in a show of force, that's not just a, 'Hey, give me my stuff back.'  she said.

"I can't ignore that the behavior at the time on September 13 was reckless," she added. "The law was broken."

Simpson apologized in court for his actions, saying, "I didn't know I was doing anything illegal. ... I'm sorry for all of it."

Simpson's family announced his death on April 11, 2024, 

"On April 10th, our father, Orenthal James Simpson, succumbed to his battle with cancer," they wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. "

He was surrounded by his children and grandchildren. During this time of transition, his family asks that you please respect their wishes for privacy and grace."

Hollywood films, documentaries, and TV series have chronicled the infamous trial, ensuring that O.J. Simpson’s name remains etched in American history.

As we bid farewell to this complex and controversial figure, we remember O.J. Simpson not only for his athletic achievements but also for the indelible impact he left on the legal landscape and the collective memory of a nation. His life, like the trial that defined it, will continue to be dissected, debated, and remembered for generations to come.

The family of Orenthal James Simpson has requested privacy during this time of transition.