OJ Simpson, Former NFL Star Acquitted of Murder, Dies at 76

O.J. Simpson, once a celebrated American football player, actor, and infamous figure accused of double murder, has passed away at the age of 76 due to cancer, according to a family statement released on Thursday.

The 1995 trial, in which he was controversially acquitted of the murders of his former wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman, captivated global audiences and became a defining cultural moment of the twentieth century.

Simpson’s family announced his passing on X, formerly known as Twitter, with a brief message: “On April 10th, our father, Orenthal James Simpson, lost his fight with cancer.”

“Surrounded by his children and grandchildren, he passed away. During this time, the family requests privacy and asks for grace.”

The Pro-Football Hall of Fame issued a statement mentioning that Simpson, who died in Las Vegas, had been undergoing chemotherapy for prostate cancer, a condition he had disclosed two months prior.

David Cook, representing Goldman’s family, expressed on Thursday through a short statement that Simpson “died without penance.”

Renowned as one of the most successful and beloved athletes of his era, Simpson’s achievements with the San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills, along with his roles in Hollywood films like ‘The Naked Gun,’ were largely overshadowed by the 1994 murder accusations and subsequent events.

The saga included a televised slow-speed chase through Los Angeles in a Ford Bronco, as Simpson tried to evade the police, leading up to a trial that gripped millions of viewers worldwide daily, merging celebrity culture with criminal proceedings in a way that has since become a media commonplace.

Spanning 11 months, the trial brought attention to several vivid personalities including Judge Lance Ito, lawyers Johnnie Cochran and Robert Kardashian, and Simpson’s acquaintance, Kato Kaelin.

A pivotal moment occurred when Simpson struggled to fit a glove, prompting Cochran’s famous remark to the jury, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”

The trial also unfolded against the backdrop of severe racial tensions in Los Angeles, which had experienced extensive rioting and arson in 1991 following the acquittal of police officers accused of beating Rodney King, a Black motorist.

The credibility of the Los Angeles Police Department was deeply questioned by the city’s African American community, and during the trial, racism charges were levied against detectives.

Notably, Detective Mark Fuhrman was heard on a tape using racist slurs and discussing evidence tampering, which was played for the jury.

Detectives later expressed their perception that the jury was hostile towards them and felt that the case was doomed following the King verdicts.

Although acquitted criminally, Simpson was found responsible in a civil trial three years later, with the victims’ families winning a judgment of $33.5 million against him.

In 2008, Simpson was convicted of a botched robbery in Las Vegas as he tried to reclaim sports memorabilia he claimed was stolen, leading to a 15-year prison sentence.

At the age of 61, Simpson led a group into a hotel room confrontation over memorabilia, resulting in his conviction for armed robbery among other charges.

He spent nine years in a remote Nevada prison, working part of that time as a gym janitor, and was released on parole in October 2017 without showing remorse.

In his later years, Simpson claimed he would dedicate his life to finding the supposed real culprits behind the murders but ended up declaring bankruptcy and settling in Florida.

Protected by state laws from losing his home to satisfy civil liabilities, he faced criticism for seemingly living lavishly near Miami.