O.J. Simpson Dead: See His Controversial Life in Pictures

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Look back on the height of Simpson's NFL career and his later headline-making years following his death at 76

<p>POOL/AFP/Getty</p> O. J. Simpson in 1994

POOL/AFP/Getty

O. J. Simpson in 1994

O.J. Simpson died on April 10, 2024, at the age of 76.

In his early years, Simpson made a splash on the football field, winning the Heisman Trophy in 1968 and going on to be the No. 1 pick in the 1969 NFL draft. But despite his success in sports, he'd ultimately become most known as the suspect in the 1994 murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman. The subsequent trial became one of the most-watched television moments of its time, later revived in the dramatic 2016 TV series The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story.

Though Simpson was acquitted, he was later sued by the Brown and Goldman families in a 1997 civil trial; a court decided in their favor, awarding them a liability judgment of $33.5 million. He was arrested again in 2007 for felony armed robbery and kidnapping in Las Vegas and in 2008, convicted and sentenced to 33 years in prison, of which he served just less than nine.

Earlier in 2024, the father of five opened up about his cancer diagnosis, though denied being in hospice care, saying "all is well" to his 1 million followers on X.

Here, look back on Simpson's controversial life in photos.

O.J. Simpson's Early Life

AP O.J. Simpson wins the Heisman Trophy
AP O.J. Simpson wins the Heisman Trophy

Born on July 9, 1947, in San Francisco, Orenthal James Simpson played football in high school and for City College of San Francisco before transferring to the University of Southern California. Simpson was a running back for the Trojans in 1967 and 1968, leading the nation in rushing both years. As a senior, he was awarded the Heisman Trophy (above).

O.J. Simpson's NFL Career

Getty Images/Getty Images Sport O.J. Simpson on the Buffalo Bills
Getty Images/Getty Images Sport O.J. Simpson on the Buffalo Bills

In the 1969 draft, Simpson was the No. 1 overall pick, going to the Buffalo Bills. He played with the team through 1978, moving on to the San Francisco 49ers from 1979 to 1982.

Simpson, who was nicknamed "Juice," became the first NFL player to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a single season in 1973, and still holds the record for the single season yards-per-game average — at 143.1. He was the only player to ever rush for over 2,000 yards in the 14-game regular season NFL format.

O.J. Simpson's Retirement

<p>Bettmann</p> O.J. Simpson with his NFL Hall of Fame trophy

Bettmann

O.J. Simpson with his NFL Hall of Fame trophy

Simpson retired in 1982, and in 1985, was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

In his speech, he thanked previous coaches, colleagues and loved ones, and called out in particular the fans in Buffalo.

"They were out there when I couldn't see the other goal line, when I couldn't see the sidelines and there were 80,000 of 'em in the stands and I just want all the fans in the NFL to know how much I appreciate it. No matter what stadium I would play in, you cheered me and made me feel appreciated and welcome. And I want to tell you that I know now already in my heart and in my memories the things that I will miss the most about this game is the sound of your applause and your cheers."

O.J. Simpson's Post-Football Career

<p>Mickey Pfleger /Sports Illustrated via Getty</p> O.J. Simpson on Monday Night Football

Mickey Pfleger /Sports Illustrated via Getty

O.J. Simpson on Monday Night Football

Immediately after leaving the game, Simpson joined ABC, working as a Monday Night Football commentator alongside fellow greats Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell, Don Meredith and Joe Namath. He manned the desk until the 1986 season.

O.J. Simpson's Acting Work

<p>ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty</p> O.J. Simpson in Roots

ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty

O.J. Simpson in Roots

Meanwhile, Simpson's next career move was heating up: acting. The athlete had appeared on a handful of television series while still playing football, including the epic 1977 miniseries Roots (above), but once his time on the field was done, he took parts in films including the Naked Gun trilogy, Hambone and Hillie and Cocaine and Blue Eyes.

O.J. Simpson's Family Life

<p>Barry King/WireImage</p> O.J. Simpson, Nicole Brown Simpson and their kids Sydney and Justin

Barry King/WireImage

O.J. Simpson, Nicole Brown Simpson and their kids Sydney and Justin

Simpson married Marguerite L. Whitley in 1967; together, they had three children, Arnelle, Jason and Aaren. The pair divorced in 1979.

In 1985, Simpson married Nicole Brown after meeting her during her time as a cocktail waitress. The pair went on to have two children, daughter Sydney and son Justin (pictured with their parents at the Naked Gun 33 1/3 premiere). Brown and Simpson divorced in 1992.

Nicole Brown's Murder and O.J. Simpson's Police Chase

Getty O.J. Simpson's 1994 Bronco chase
Getty O.J. Simpson's 1994 Bronco chase

On June 12, 1994, Brown, then 35, and her friend Ron Goldman, then 25, were found stabbed to death in the courtyard of her Brentwood condominium.

The next day Simpson was named a suspect in the case, and questioned by police though released. On June 17, he was charged with the murders, but instead of surrendering to police, Simpson and his friend Al Cowlings took off in his white Ford Bronco as Simpson held a gun to his head, leading authorities on a 60-mile chase through Los Angeles that aired live on TV. The men finally came to a stop, and Simpson was arrested that night, according to a look back from the AP. The former football star pled not guilty to the charges against him.

O.J. Simpson's Trial

WireImage / Getty Images O.J. Simpson's 1995 murder trial
WireImage / Getty Images O.J. Simpson's 1995 murder trial

In January of 1995, Simpson's trial began, airing on television to millions of viewers. Throughout its twists and turns it made celebrities of lawyers such as Marcia Clark (for the prosecution) and Johnnie Cochran (for the defense) and Judge Lance Ito, and became the buzz of late-night shows (Jay Leno regularly brought in "Dancing Itos" on The Tonight Show). It also produced one-liners, like Cochran's famous "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit," after Simpson struggled to put on the pair of gloves found at the murder scene at the prosecution's request.

But it also featured heartbreaking moments from the victims' families and witnesses, opening up conversations around domestic abuse and the full yet short lives of Brown and Goldman.

Speaking to PEOPLE in 2016, Goldman's father Fred said, “All the way through his life I had enormous pride for Ron and for the young man he was becoming and all the good things he did for people.”

He added that the grieving process after Ron’s death is “a journey that doesn’t end. It’s constant. The loss is always there and the pain is always there.”

O.J. Simpson's Acquittal

Agence France Presse/Getty O.J. Simpson is found not guilty in 1995
Agence France Presse/Getty O.J. Simpson is found not guilty in 1995

In 1995, Simpson was found not guilty of the crimes, mouthing "thank you" to the jury as he left the courtroom. The verdict — watched by 150 million viewers, per TIME — shocked many.

“Two innocent people were murdered and no one cared,” Clark, the lead prosecutor, told PEOPLE in 2016. “Everybody forgot.”

Following his acquittal, Simpson was sued in civil court by the Browns and Goldmans.

In 1997, a court decided in their favor, awarding them a liability judgment of $33.5 million. Simpson would end up paying only a small fraction of that amount.

O.J. Simpson's 2007 Arrest and Trial

Getty Images O.J. Simpson back on trial in 2008
Getty Images O.J. Simpson back on trial in 2008

In 2006, Simpson sold a manuscript called If I Did It, offering a hypothetical account of how he would have killed Simpson and Goldman. The family of Goldman ultimately bought the rights, according to The Hollywood Reporter. (The related interview, previously unseen, aired in 2018.)

In September of 2007, Simpson was arrested again, this time for felony armed robbery and kidnapping after forcing men to return memorabilia he'd claimed they'd stolen from him. The incident happened inside the Palace Station Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

The case went to trial, and in 2008, Simpson was convicted and sentenced to 33 years behind bars. He served almost nine years of that sentence at the Lovelock Correctional Center in Nevada.

O.J. Simpson's Release from Prison

<p>Jason Bean-Pool/Getty</p> O.J. Simpson is released from prison in 2017

Jason Bean-Pool/Getty

O.J. Simpson is released from prison in 2017

Simpson was released from prison on Oct. 1, 2017.

“I told him, ‘Don’t ‘come back,’ and he responded, ‘I don’t intend to,’ ” Brooke Keast, a spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Corrections, told CNN. “He was upbeat, personable and seemed happy to get on with his life.”

That July, Simpson was granted parole following a highly publicized hearing, where the four Nevada parole board commissioners present unanimously voted for his early release, citing the support Simpson had from his family and his disciplinary-free record while in prison, where he also took anti-violence classes.

He was to remain on parole until Sept. 29, 2022, required to adhere to the conditions set by the Nevada parole board, which included banning him from consuming alcohol in large quantities or hanging out with ex-convicts or people who engage in criminal activity.

O.J. Simpson's Final Years

<p>O.J. Simpson X</p> O.J. Simpson in 2024

O.J. Simpson X

O.J. Simpson in 2024

Following his release, Simpson kept a low profile at home in Las Vegas, though had a large following on X, where he'd often post NFL takes and life updates.

In February of 2024, he addressed rumors he was in hospice, assuring fans that despite a cancer diagnosis, "all is well."

On April 11, 2024, Simpson's family confirmed he had died the day prior at the age of 76.

"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," the post on Simpson's account read.

For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on People.