OJ Simpson, ex-NFL star who was acquitted of murder, dies aged 76

By , K24 Digital
On Thu, 11 Apr, 2024 20:24 | 2 mins read
OJ Simpson sits in superior court in Los Angeles on 8 December 1994.
OJ Simpson sits in superior court in Los Angeles on 8 December 1994. PHOTO/Getty Images

OJ Simpson, the former American football star, actor and notorious suspected double murderer, has died of cancer at 76, his family said in a statement on Thursday.

His 1995 trial, and controversial acquittal, for the deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman, provided one of the world’s most-watched popular culture events of the last century.

Simpson’s death was announced on X, formerly Twitter, in a simple message from his family: “On April 10th, our father, Orenthal James Simpson, succumbed to his battle with cancer. 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,” the statement said.

Simpson “died without penance”, attorneys for Goldman’s family said on Thursday in a brief statement.

One of the most successful and popular sports stars of his generation, Simpson’s career with the San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills, as well as his post-retirement starring roles in Hollywood movies such as The Naked Gun, was ultimately overshadowed by the 1994 murders and their aftermath.

From a low-speed car chase across Los Angeles, broadcast live, in which Simpson attempted to flee pursuing police officers in a Ford Bronco, to the televised trial that captivated the attention of millions of viewers in the US and globally on a daily basis, the events heralded a blending of celebrity and crime that has become a staple of media ever since.

The trial brought to prominence colorful characters including the judge Lance Ito, the attorneys Johnnie Cochran and Robert Kardashian, and the Simpsons’ 'house guest' Kato Kaelin. It provided perhaps the most famous 'gotcha' moment in courthouse history, when Simpson struggled to put on a glove that the prosecution alleged he wore during the stabbings, and Cochran told the jury: 'If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.'

Not guilty verdict

Despite the not guilty verdict, three years after Simpson’s criminal trial, he was found liable in a civil suit brought by the victims’ families and ordered to pay $33.5m. In 2008, he was sent to prison for 15 years for a botched robbery in Las Vegas in which he attempted to forcibly recover sports memorabilia he insisted had been stolen from him.

Simpson led five men he barely knew into a confrontation with two memorabilia dealers in a hotel room. Two men with Simpson had guns. A jury convicted Simpson of armed robbery and other felonies.

Imprisoned at 61, he served nine years in a remote northern Nevada prison, including a stint as a gym janitor. He was not contrite when he was released on parole in October 2017.

In later life, despite pledging to dedicate the rest of his life to the relentless pursuit of those he insisted were the real killers, he retired to Florida and became a regular on the golf course.

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