Monday, May 20, 2024

O.J. Simpson dies at age 76

O.J. Simpson, the former NFL star and broadcaster whose athletic achievements and fame were eclipsed by his 1995 trial in the brutal killings of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman, has died of cancer, his family announced Thursday on X. He was 76.

A post from the “Simpson Family” on Simpson’s verified X account Thursday morning said: “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.”

Simpson’s prostate cancer diagnosis was made public about two months ago, Pro Football Hall of Fame President Jim Porter said in a statement. The Hall of Fame player had received chemotherapy treatment.

While Simpson was a highly decorated athlete – winning the 1968 Heisman Trophy as a senior running back at the University of Southern California before playing for the NFL’s Buffalo Bills and later the San Francisco 49ers – he became perhaps one of the most controversial figures of the late 20th century after he was charged with the murders of his former wife and her friend.

A jury found him not guilty in a trial that saw America’s fascination with celebrity collide with its centuries-long struggle with race, as well as issues of class, policing and criminal justice. Those themes – and the judge’s decision to allow the trial to be televised – coalesced in what many called a “Trial of the Century” that held the country’s attention in a vise grip for nearly nine months before evolving into a cultural touchstone.

In 1997, another jury unanimously deemed Simpson liable for Brown Simpson’s and Goldman’s wrongful deaths in a civil lawsuit brought by Goldman’s family and ordered him to pay $33.5 million in damages.

Simpson maintained his innocence. But by 2016, polling showed most Americans believed he was guilty.

Kim and Fred Goldman, the parents of Ron Goldman, said in a statement the “news of Ron’s killer passing away is a mixed bag of complicated emotions and reminds us that the journey through grief is not linear.”

“For three decades we tirelessly pursued justice for Ron and Nicole, and despite a civil judgment and his confession in (a book titled ‘If I Did It’), the hope for true accountability has ended,” the Goldmans said.

“We will continue to advocate for the rights of all victims and survivors, ensuring our voices are heard both within and beyond the courtroom. And despite his death, the mission continues; there’s always more to be done. Thank you for keeping our family, and most importantly Ron, in your hearts for the last 30 years.”

Gloria Allred, the Los Angeles attorney who represented Brown Simpson’s family during Simpson’s criminal trial, said his death is a reminder of the justice system “failing battered women” and allowing “celebrity men to avoid true justice.”

Simpson eventually ended up behind bars in an unrelated case, serving 9 years of a sentence of up to 33 years following his conviction on charges related to a 2007 armed robbery in Las Vegas in which he and others tried to steal at gunpoint what Simpson said were pieces of his own sports memorabilia.



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