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O.J. Simpson dies aged 76 following cancer battle – read family's statement

The former football star was at the center of one of the most infamous car chases and murder trials in modern history

Actor and former NFL player O.J. Simpson arrives at a movie premiere circa 1990 in Los Angeles, California.
Beatriz Colon
Beatriz Colon - New York
New York WriterNew York
11 April 2024
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O.J. Simpson, the former football star later better known for his infamous car chase and subsequent trial for the murder of his former wife Nicole Brown, has died. He was 76.

A statement on behalf of his family read: "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." His battle with prostate cancer was announced in February.

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Born in San Francisco, California on July 9, 1947, he was born the son of mom Eunice (née Durden), a hospital administrator, and dad Jimmy Lee Simpson, a well-known drag queen in the Bay Area, who later came out as gay before he died of AIDS in 1986. It has been said he was called "O.J." from birth, and wasn't aware of his real first name until he attended primary school.

Simpson first started playing football in college, before he was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the 1969 NFL/AFL draft.

He retired with the San Francisco 49ers ten years later, and went on to make a fortune making movies, television, and popular advertisements, before his world turned upside down, and he plummeted to infamy, after the murder of his former wife and her friend Ronald L. Goldman.

Buffalo Bills' running back O.J. Simpson #32 poses for a portrait circa early 1970's. © Getty
Simpson as a Buffalo Bills running back in the early 1970s

Simpson married his first wife, Marguerite L. Whitley, in 1967, when he was 19, and the two had three children together, Arnelle L. Simpson, 55, Jason Lamar Simpson, 53, and Aaren Lashone Simpson, who was born in 1977 but died after she drowned in her family's swimming pool in 1979.

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Simpson met Brown at a Beverly Hills nightclub in 1977, and they began dating while he was still married to Whitley, from whom he divorced in 1979. They married in 1985, and welcomed two children, Sydney Brooke Simpson, 38, and Justin Ryan Simpson, 36, before Brown filed for divorce in 1992. (In 1989, Simpson had pleaded no contest to spousal abuse.)

Portrait of American former foorball player OJ Simpson and his wife, Nicole Brown (1959 - 1994), as they attend a party at the Harley Davidson Cafe, New York, New York, 1993. Simpson was tried for the murder of his wife (on June 12, 1994) and, though he was acquitted in the murder trial, he was found guilty of wrongful death in a subsequent civil suit--still later, he was found guilty of other felony charges (unrelated to the murder) and convicted in 2008.© Getty
Simpson and Brown the year before her murder

On June 12, 1994, Brown and Goldman were found stabbed to death outside of her apartment in Brentwood, Los Angeles, and Simpson immediately became a suspect. 

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Charges were subsequently filed against him along with a warrant for his arrest, and though he and his attorneys had agreed he would turn himself in on June 17, he instead failed to do so, leading to the infamous low-speed car chase in a white 1993 Ford Bronco SUV, with his former teammate and good friend Al Cowlings in the driver's seat. The moment was watched by a whopping 95 million Americans.

Real Housewives star Lauri Peterson announces heartbreaking death of her son, 35© Lee Celano
Simpson tries on a leather glove allegedly used in the murders of Brown and Goldman during testimony in his murder trial on June 15, 1995

The subsequent 1995 trial for the murders – during which he was acquitted – was dubbed the trial of the century, lasted 11 months, and an estimated 100 million people nationwide tuned in to learn the verdict. 

Among one of the most seminal moments from the trial was the bloodied, left-handed glove that was found outside Brown's residence, with the coordinating pair later being found at Simpson's estate. During a June 15, 1995 court session, Simpson put on the gloves, which were too small for him – prosecution argued the gloves had shrunk because of the blood – and his lawyer Johnnie Lee Cochran Jr. famously declared: "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit!"

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