The hidden side of politics

O.J. Simpson, former NFL star whose murder trial gripped the nation, dies at 76

Reported by CNBC: 

O.J. Simpson listens as his defense attorney, Ozzie Fumo, questions witness David Cook during an evidentiary hearing in Clark County District Court May 16, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Julie Jacobson | Pool | Getty Images

O.J. Simpson, the former NFL star who was acquitted of murdering his ex-wife and her friend in a televised trial that gripped the nation, has died of cancer, according to his family.

He was 76.

“He was surrounded by his children and grandchildren,” the family said in a statement posted on X. “During this time of transition, his family asks that you please respect their wishes for privacy and grace.”

Reports circulated in February that Simpson had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and was in hospice care as he underwent chemotherapy. He denied that he was in hospice in a video posted on X, but did not address whether or not he’d been diagnosed with cancer.

“Hospice? Hospice? You talking ’bout hospice?” he said in the video with a laugh, adding that he doesn’t know who started the rumors. 

Orenthal James Simpson played 11 seasons in the National Football League, known as “The Juice” to his fans, but his sports legacy took a back seat in the 1990s after his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson was killed.

Nicole Brown Simpson, 35, and her friend Ronald Goldman, 25, were found stabbed to death outside her Los Angeles home in 1994.

On June 13, 1994, Goldman was returning sunglasses that the mother of Brown Simpson had left at a restaurant where he worked. The two were stabbed and slashed dozens of times and found the next day.


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When Los Angeles police officers went to Simpson’s home to speak to him about the slayings, Simpson did not answer the door but officers noticed blood a trail of blood leading to his car, as well as blood on his car.

Once a revered athlete, Simpson went from a Hall of Fame icon to a murder suspect.

Days later, officials charged Simpson with the murders and he attempted to evade arrest, resulting in an infamous hourslong police chase along Southern California’s highways in his white Ford Bronco.

California Highway Patrol chase Al Cowlings, driving, and O.J. Simpson, hiding in rear of white Bronco on the 91 Freeway, just West of the I5 freeway. The chase ended in Simpson’s arrest at his Brentwood home.

Allen J. Schaben | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images

Simpson’s case went to trial in 1995 and was broadcast to millions of viewers across the nation. The court case has been dubbed the “trial of the century” as it dragged on for months and transformed into a public spectacle.

Feelings over the trial have remained mixed over the years, with many criticizing the Los Angeles Police Department of racism in its handling of Simpson’s case. Others believe that Simpson’s ability to retain high-powered attorneys allowed him to get away with murder.

The trial made prosecutors Christopher Darden and Marcia Clark household names, in addition to Simpson’s defense attorneys Johnnie Cochran, Alan Dershowitz and Robert Kardashian.

He was acquitted of both murders in a controversial verdict. Two years later, he was found civilly liable for the double homicide.

Despite his acquittal in the criminal trial, many still believed Simpson was guilty, a belief bolstered by a jury ordering him to pay $33 million to Goldman’s family in the civil case — damages that were never paid in full.

OJ Simpson looks at a new pair of Aris extra-large gloves that prosecutors had him put on 21 June 1995 during his double-murder trial in Los Angeles.

Vince Bucci | Afp | Getty Images

Goldman’s father, Fred Goldman, spoke to NBC News by phone Thursday and described Simpson’s death as “no great loss.”

“The only thing I have to say is it’s just further reminder of Ron being gone all these years,” he said. “It’s no great loss to the world. It’s a further reminder of Ron’s being gone.”

In 2007, Simpson led an armed robbery attempt of a sports memorabilia dealer in Las Vegas. He argued in court that he was recovering his own stolen items, but his defense failed to sway the jury.

He was convicted and sentenced to 33 years in prison, of which he served only nine before he was released on parole.

Simpson spoke to The Associated Press by phone in 2019, telling them that he was healthy and happy living in Las Vegas. He maintained that he didn’t believe his conviction was fair.

“I believe in the legal system and I honored it,” he said. “I served my time.”

Simpson’s case was re-enacted and re-litigated decades later in FX’s “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” an installment of the network’s popular “American Crime Story” series in 2016. Released that same year was the Academy Award-winning documentary “O.J.: Made in America,” detailing Simpson’s rise and fall.

Simpson was born in San Francisco and raised in public housing, going to a local college before transferring to the University of Southern California. He was part of the school’s national championship win in 1967 and earned the Heisman Trophy the next year.

He was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 1969 as a No. 1 overall pick for the team.

According to NBC Sports, Simpson was the first player in the league to rush for 2,000 or more yards in a season and is considered the best running back of his era.

Simpson had three children from his first marriage to Marguerite Whitley, one of whom died in a drowning accident as a toddler.

He also shared two children with Brown Simpson.

Following her murder and his acquittal, Simpson won custody of their shared children and moved to Miami with them. His custody fight with his former-in-laws also drew headlines as the children’s grandparents took him to court in a bitter legal battle.