O.J. Simpson and Nicole Brown Simpson: A timeline of their relationship

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It’s been 30 years since Nicole Brown Simpson’s brutal murder, and 29 years since her ex-husband, late NFL star O.J. Simpson, was acquitted of the act in what was dubbed the “Trial of the Century.” But those events, which came to define both of them in popular culture, only cover the end of their connection. Before all of that, there was love and marriage. There was also violence and divorce.

Learn more about the tumultuous relationship the pair shared in this timeline that covers everything from the beginning to the tragic end.

O.J. Simpson and wife Nicole Brown Simpson (Robin Platzer / Getty Images)
O.J. Simpson and wife Nicole Brown Simpson (Robin Platzer / Getty Images)

1977: Nicole Brown & O.J. Simpson first meet

Nicole Brown was just 18 years old when she met O.J. Simpson in 1977 at a Beverly Hills nightclub where she worked as a waitress. Despite his fame as both an actor and superstar NFL running back, Brown had never heard of Simpson.

At the time, she was an aspiring model and photographer, as well as a community college student. But her personal ambitions soon faded into the background as, according to the Baltimore Sun, she dropped out of college and moved in with Simpson, then 30, just months after their first meeting.

Nicole Brown and OJ Simpson in 1980. (Gary Leonard/Corbis / Getty Images)
Nicole Brown and OJ Simpson in 1980. (Gary Leonard/Corbis / Getty Images)

Her older sister, Denise Brown, told USA Today, that while her sibling was “definitely in love” with her new partner, eight months into the relationship, she witnessed Simpson become enraged when he saw a male friend kiss Nicole Brown on the cheek.

“When we got back to the house, all hell broke loose...” she told the outlet.

Though Simpson’s relationship with Brown progressed quickly, he was still married to his first wife, Marguerite Whitley, in 1977. He and Whitley shared two children, son Jason and daughter Arnelle, and they had another child on the way.

1979: Simpson divorces his first wife

Simpson and Whitley, who wed in 1967, had separated a number of times throughout their marriage, according to the New York Times. In March 1979, they made their final separation permanent by divorcing.

Their youngest daughter, Aaren, died in August of the same year at just 23 months old.

1984: Brown & Simpson at the Olympics

Ahead of the 1984 Summer Olympics, Simpson, who’d retired from the NFL four years earlier, had the honor of carrying the Olympic flame along the Pacific Coast Highway as it made its way to Los Angeles, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Running behind Simpson was Brown, who’d been by his side for seven years at that point.

1985: Brown & Simpson's marriage and family

Simpson and Brown said their “I dos” on February 2, 1985.

“Looking back on her wedding video, (Nicole) was so elated; beyond belief,” Brown Simpson’s youngest sister, Tanya Brown, recalled in a post she shared on Instagram in 2022.

The wedding wasn't only one thing the bride and groom celebrated in 1985. The other big event was the arrival of their first child together, daughter Sydney, on October 17.

1988: Brown Simpson has another baby

Three years later, on August 6, 1988, the couple welcomed their second child to the world, son Justin.

By all accounts, motherhood brought Brown Simpson tremendous joy.


“Nicole was a mom, first and foremost,” Tanya Brown told People in 2019. “Her kids were her life. She always wanted to make sure they were having fun and being kids.”

1989: Simpson's arrest and photos of abuse

On January 1, police arrived at the couple’s home and, according to a report in The New York Times, Brown Simpson “ran out of the bushes, yelling: ‘He’s going to kill me! He’s going to kill me!’” She had injuries — including a cut lip, swelling, a black eye and a hand imprint on her neck — that required treatment at a hospital.

It was the eighth time police had been called to the residence, but the New Year’s Day incident marked the first time Simpson had been arrested and charged with spousal abuse. Four months later, he pleaded no contest, and was sentenced to 120 hours of community service, two years probation and a $200 fine.

During a 2024 visit to TODAY, Denis Brown recalled documenting her sister’s abuse that same year.

“She called me in 1989, and said, ‘Denise, will you take pictures of me?’” she said. “And I just went, ‘Whoa!’”

1992: Divorce

Citing irreconcilable differences, Brown Simpson filed for divorce from the former NFL star in 1992.

1993: Brown Simpson's Calls to 911

Despite their divorce, Simpson and Brown Simpson didn’t make a clean break, and the co-parents attempted to reconcile the following year. But their reunion didn’t last long.

On October 25, 1993, Brown Simpson called 911 twice and told dispatchers that her ex-husband had broken into her house and was “ranting and raving” and “crazy,” according to The Washington Post. When asked what he looked like, she said, “It’s O.J. Simpson. I think you know his record.”

1994: The murder of Nicole Brown Simpson

Eight months later, on June 12, 1994, Brown Simpson was fatally stabbed alongside her friend, Ron Goldman, outside her Brentwood, Los Angeles home. She was 35.

Though Brown Simpson’s ex-husband was accused of killing both her and Goldman, he was acquitted of all charges in 1995. He was, however, later found liable for their deaths in a 1997 civil trial.

This article was originally published on TODAY.com