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O.J. Simpson dead at 76

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  • O.J. Simpson has died of cancer at age 76, his family announced Thursday. The former NFL star and broadcaster's 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.
  • Simpson assembled a "dream team" defense for the trial. The proceedings captivated the country, with tens of millions of viewers tuning in at home and at work.
  • The former running back was a household name at the time, having appeared in TV shows, movies and national ad campaigns after emerging as a star in college and professional football.
  • In 1997, a civil trial jury unanimously deemed Simpson liable for the deaths and ordered him to pay $33.5 million in damages.
  • He later served about nine years in prison for an unrelated case involving a memorabilia robbery in Las Vegas. He was released in 2017.
4:43 p.m. ET, April 11, 2024

Attorney for Simpson expresses condolences to his family

Attorney Carl Douglas, who represented O.J. Simpson during his murder trial alongside Robert Kardashian and Johnnie Cochran, expressed condolences to Simpson's children upon the news of his death.

"I was shocked and surprised to hear of O.J. Simpson's death at the relatively young age of 76," Douglas said.

"I expect our names will forever be linked together in some way," he continued, adding, "may he rest in peace."

Kardashian died in 2003, and Cochran died in 2005.

4:41 p.m. ET, April 11, 2024

Simpson's death is a reminder of the system "failing battered women," attorney Gloria Allred says

Gloria Allred, the star Los Angeles attorney who represented Nicole Brown Simpson's family during O.J. Simpson's criminal trial, said the former football star's death is a reminder of the justice system "failing battered women" and allowing "celebrity men to avoid true justice."

Simpson was acquitted of murder in the 1995 criminal case stemming from the brutal killings of Brown Simpson, his ex-wife, and her friend Ron Goldman. A civil trial jury unanimously deemed Simpson liable for the deaths two years later.

The couple's years together were rife with allegations of domestic violence and reports of abuse.
In a statement Thursday, Allred once again accused Simpson of the murder, and she referenced an alleged episode of domestic violence that occurred five years prior to Brown Simpson's death.

"Even though he beat her, inflicted a black eye on her, and left her terrified hiding in the bushes, in 1989 he was never jailed by a judge for the spousal violence to which she was subjected and to which he plead no contest," the lawyer wrote.

"Simpson’s death reminds us that the legal system even 30 years later is still failing battered women, and that the power of celebrity men to avoid true justice for the harm that they inflict on their wives or significant others is still a major obstacle to the right of women to be free of the gender violence to which they are still subjected," Allred wrote.
CNN’s Elizabeth Wagmeister, Dakin Andone and Ray Sanchez contributed reporting to this post.
2:30 p.m. ET, April 11, 2024

Photos: O.J. Simpson through the years

O.J. Simpson, playing for the San Francisco 49ers, walks off the field after his final NFL game in December 1979.  AP

O.J. Simpson was a highly decorated athlete — winning the 1968 Heisman Trophy at University of Southern California and then starring in the NFL — before he became one of the most controversial figures of the late 20th century when 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.

The trial held the country's attention in a vise grip for nearly nine months, and remained a cultural touchstone up through Simpson's family announcing his death from cancer Thursday.

See more from O.J. Simpson's life in pictures here.
Simpson poses with the Heisman Memorial Trophy after receiving the award in 1968.  Bettmann Archive/Getty Images
Simpson poses for a portrait with his wife Marguerite, daughter Arnelle and son Jason in 1973.  Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Simpson and LeVar Burton take a break during filming of the hit 1977 television series "Roots."  ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images
Attorney Johnnie Cochran, Jr. holds Simpson as the not guilty verdict is read in the courtroom on October 3, 1995.  Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Daily News via AP
Simpson signs documents at the Lovelock Correctional Center in Nevada in September 2017, before being released. He had been serving time for his involvement in a 2007 armed robbery in Las Vegas. Brooke Keast/Nevada Department of Corrections via AP

4:29 p.m. ET, April 11, 2024

Ron Goldman's father says Simpson's death is a painful reminder of loss of his son

Fred Goldman, the father of Ron Goldman — who was killed alongside his friend Nicole Brown Simpson in 1994 — told People magazine O.J. Simpson's death is a "reminder for us how long Ron has been gone, how long we have missed him and nothing more than that."

“That is the only thing that is important today. It is the pain from then until now. There is nothing today that is more important than the loss of my son and the loss of Nicole," he said.

12:48 p.m. ET, April 11, 2024

What to know about the 2007 robbery that landed Simpson behind bars

O.J. Simpson, center, appears in court on charges which include kidnapping, armed robbery and assault, in Las Vegas, Nevada, in September 2007. Clint Karlsen/Pool/Getty Images

O.J. Simpson was released from prison in 2017 after serving about nine years of a 33-year sentence for a kidnapping and armed robbery in Las Vegas.

In the 2007 robbery, Simpson was part of a group that raided a hotel and casino to steal sports memorabilia from two dealers at gunpoint.

Simpson was convicted on charges including kidnapping, armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. The former college and pro football star said at his sentencing that he was trying to reclaim family heirlooms and other personal items that had been stolen from him, and claimed he was unaware his associates were carrying guns.

During his years in prison, Simpson passed the time playing fantasy football, coaching softball, and, at least in the beginning, eating lots of junk food, according to guards and an inmate who were there with him.
Simpson was granted an early parole discharge in 2021, according to the Nevada Department of Public Safety.

Simpson spent a lifetime in the limelight, first for his athletic prowess in college and the NFL, then as an actor and pitchman, then as a murder suspect in the 1994 killing of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman.

12:36 p.m. ET, April 11, 2024

O.J. Simpson's infamous white Bronco chase sparked one of the most-watched events in TV history

Motorists pull over to watch police pursue O.J. Simpson in a Ford Bronco on June 17, 1994, in Los Angeles, California. Jean-Marc Giboux/Liaison/Getty Images

On June 17, 1994, O.J. Simpson got into a white Ford Bronco and rode down a Los Angeles interstate, starting one of the most-watched events in TV history.

That was the day Simpson was charged with two counts of murder in the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. He was supposed to have turned himself in to face the charges but didn’t. He was declared a fugitive and a warrant was put out for his arrest.

At about 6:45 p.m., police saw Simpson on the expressway in a white Ford Bronco driven by his best friend and former teammate, Al Cowlings. Simpson was riding in the back, and he reportedly had a gun. And with that, the 60-mile, two-hour, low-speed pursuit through Southern California was on.

A cavalcade of police cars followed in pursuit. TV helicopters swooped in to join the chase. As the Bronco traveled under highway overpasses, crowds of people cheered Simpson on with shouts and signs.

About 95 million people watched the chase that night in total.

Watch CNN's coverage at the time:

12:14 p.m. ET, April 11, 2024

Simpson was receiving chemotherapy treatment for prostate cancer, Hall of Fame president says

O.J. Simpson had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and received chemotherapy treatment before he died, Pro Football Hall of Fame President Jim Porter said in a statement Thursday, after the former running back's family confirmed his death.
CNN has recently reported on a stark racial disparity in prostate cancer diagnoses, which has spurred health advocates to urge Black men to consider getting prostate cancer screenings.
One in six Black men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime, according to the advocacy organization ZERO Prostate Cancer. Research from the American Cancer Society shows Black men are more than twice as likely to die from the disease than their White counterparts.
CNN's Nicquel Terry Ellis contributed reporting to this post.
12:02 p.m. ET, April 11, 2024

Simpson was "not just admired, but beloved" as a household name, says sportscaster Bob Costas

O.J. Simpson looks on from the sideline during a Buffalo Bills football game in 1975. George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Veteran sportscaster Bob Costas, who became friends with O.J. Simpson after they worked together broadcasting on NBC, said Simpson was not only a Hall of Fame-quality player, but embodied "a quality that's difficult to define; statistics alone don't capture it."

"He was not just admired, but beloved," Costas told CNN. "He was, if not the first, he was the first to do it in a big way, an African American who broke through."

Although he was known as an accomplished athlete and "one of the handful of greatest running backs in the history of college football and then the NFL," Simpson also became a household name for his appearance in movies and a variety of commercials, including a famous 1978 Hertz car rental commercial showing Simpson running through an airport.

"Everything about him, people feel it, more or less," Costas said.

Sports analyst Christine Brennan called Simpson an "American icon" who transcended sports.

“What we see now with athletes today, be it Caitlin Clark recently, of course Tom Brady, Serena Williams, LeBron (James), I could go on and on, the first-name basis that we’re on with these athletes, the fact that we absolutely expect to see them on commercials,” Brennan told CNN. “This, to me, really started with O.J. and the Hertz commercials."

Even people who didn't watch sports or knew him as an athlete recognized who Simpson was, she added.

“I knew him as an athlete, but I also knew him as a pitch man, and that crossover appeal into every living room, so even if you didn’t love football, you knew O.J. because of his ability to transcend sports and of course become the businessman and the pitchman that he was," Brennan said.

“And then the trial, and the civil trial, the civil case he lost, and the fall from grace that was extraordinary and well-deserved, absolutely self-induced, and a man that would never be seen the same again," she added.