OJ Simpson, former American football star acquitted in the “trial of the century”, has died at the age of 76

He was at the heart of a resounding trial in the United States in 1995. OJ Simpson, a former American football figure who converted to cinema, died at the age of 76, his family announced this Thursday. “On April 10, our father, Orenthal James Simpson, died following his battle with cancer. He was surrounded by his children and grandchildren”wrote his family on X.

Accused of the double murder of his former wife and her friend in 1994, he was finally acquitted the following year following the “trial of the century”, reconstituted in 2016 for fiction in the American series “American Crime Story: The People v. OJ Simpson. The debates captivated the country and the verdict exonerating OJ Simpson continues to arouse controversy, almost 30 years later.

O.J Simpson en 1991 © Getty –
Focus on Sport

Career in film and television

Suffering from rickets during his childhood, the illness did not prevent him from becoming an extraordinary athlete and from achieving a brilliant career in the National American Football League NFL.

He was crowned player of the year in 1973 while playing for the Buffalo Bills (northeast). Attractive, charismatic, the man who will be nicknamed “The Juice” – because of his initials corresponding to “Orange Juice” – enjoys immense popularity which he will maintain well following the end of his professional career, in the late 1970s.

Even before hanging up his boots, he was sought following by cinema and television, notably in the series “Racines” (1977), and delighted advertisers with his charm and slightly deep voice. His natural presence on screen would also lead him later to a career as a sports commentator.

Simpson had a successful career in the National Football League (NFL). © Getty – Focus on Sport

A grand spectacle trial

In 1985, he married his second wife, a blonde beauty, Nicole Brown, who gave him two children, and led an opulent life. They divorced in 1992. On June 12, 1994, Nicole Brown was discovered dead in Los Angeles in a pool of blood, alongside the body of her friend Ronald Goldman, also brutally murdered.

After a pursuit lasting several hours on the highways of Los Angeles, followed live by television cameras filming from helicopters, Simpson was arrested by the police. Genetic analysis identifies Simpson’s blood at the crime scene, that of the victims in his car and at his home. “OJ” maintains his innocence but is charged with double murders.

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During the trial OJ Simpson puts on the bloody glove found in his home during the trial © Getty – Lee Celano/WireImage

A year later, at the end of a spectacular trial, also broadcast live on television, a Los Angeles jury acquitted him. This decision provokes a wave of indignation in the United States and divides opinion between blacks and whites, three years following bloody racial riots in the Californian megalopolis. The ex-player was later found responsible for the deaths of the two victims during a civil trial in 1997 and ordered to pay damages of more than $33 million to their families, which he never did.

Prison for theft

In 2007, he was talked regarding once more in the legal column, arrested in Las Vegas for having stolen sports souvenirs with five henchmen from a hotel-casino in the city, at gunpoint. In early October 2008, he was convicted of 12 counts and then sentenced to 9 to 33 years in prison. He had been on parole since 2017.

Although he still owed tens of millions of dollars to the families of his ex-wife and her partner, the law allowed him to keep his professional footballer’s retirement pension: $25,000 per month.

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