O.J. Simpson, Football Player and Actor Accused of Murdering Ex-Wife, Dies at 76

O.J. Simpson, the former champion football running back-turned-actor who was acquitted in a sensational trial of charges that he murdered his ex-wife and her friend, has died of cancer, his family confirmed. He was 76 and died Wednesday at his home in Las Vegas.

His family took to his official X account to write, “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.”

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Though Simpson was not found guilty of the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, three years after his criminal trial he was found liable in a civil suit brought by the victims’ families.

Born Orenthal James Simpson in San Francisco, he won the Heisman Trophy while at USC, then set records while playing professional football for the San Francisco 49ers and the Buffalo Bills.

He started acting while still at USC, and appeared on “Medical Center” before going pro as a football player. He appeared in films such as “The Klansman,” “The Cassandra Crossing” and “The Towering Inferno,” as well as the miniseries “Roots,” while still in the NFL.

After retiring from football, he starred in three “Naked Gun” movies and the comedy “Back to the Beach.” He had completed a two-hour long pilot for the adventure series “Frogmen” when his arrest brought the project for NBC to an abrupt halt.

On June 12, 1994, his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman were found murdered outside her Brentwood condo. Simpson, who had pleaded no contest to a domestic violence charge against Nicole Brown Simpson when they were married, was considered a person of interest in the killings and charges were filed against him. Instead of turning himself in, a media spectacle erupted when he attempted to flee in his white Ford Bronco and the police followed in a slow-speed chase. The televised chase on June 17 drew an audience of some 95 million people.

The ensuing trial became a media circus and Simpson was found not guilty for the two murders. But in 1997, Goldman’s family brought a civil suit against Simpson, and he was found liable for wrongful death and battery against Goldman and battery against Nicole Brown Simpson. He was ordered to pay $33.5 million in damages.

He later served almost nine years in prison for robbery, kidnapping and other counts in a Las Vegas sports memorabilia scheme, and was released in 2017.

Hollywood films and docuseries, like Fox’s “The O.J. Simpson Story” (1995), CBS’ “American Tragedy” (2000), Investigation Discovery’s “OJ: Trial of the Century” (2014), the Oscar-winning “O.J.: Made in America” (2016) and FX’s “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” (2016) starring Cuba Gooding Jr., have chronicled the infamous trial. Sacha Baron Cohen, while disguised in-character for his 2018 Showtime series “Who Is America?”, attempted to get a confession out of Simpson in an awkward, yet memorable, interview. In 2021, Simpson was released early from parole for good behavior.

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