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O.J. Simpson Biography: Facts and Family

O.J Simpson

Following a high-profile 1995 jury trial called the “Trial of the Century,” former American football player O.J. Simpson was convicted of the murders of his ex-wife and her companion.

Who is O.J Simpson?

O.J. Simpson is a convicted armed robber and kidnapper. He was acquitted of killing Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

Simpson was a Heisman Trophy winner in 1968 as a member of the University of Southern California football team. He went on to have a record-setting NFL career and enormous fame with his followers. 

In 1994, Simpson was charged with the murders of his former wife and Goldman, despite having a relatively active post-playing career as an actor and broadcaster. 

He was cleared in a high-profile jury appeal, but in federal court, he was held responsible for their deaths.

Simpson was sentenced to up to 33 years in jail in 2008 for the murder and armed robbery of two sports memorabilia sellers in a hotel room in Las Vegas in 2007.

He was released from jail on October 1, 2017, just a few months after being given parole.

Quick Facts about O.J Simpson

Position: Running back
Personal information
Born: July 9, 1947 (age 73)
San Francisco, California
Height: 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight: 212 lb (96 kg)
Career information
High school: Galileo
(San Francisco, California)
College: USC
NFL Draft: 1969 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1

Read about: Markie Post

Early life and Education

O.J Simpson during his early life

O.J Simpson during his early life

“Oren James Simpson was born in San Francisco on July 9, 1947. His aunt named him Orenthal after a French actor she admired.

Simpson contracted rickets when he was two years old, causing him to be pigeon-toed and bow-legged. When he was five years old, he had to wear a pair of shoes bound by an iron bar for a few hours every day.

In 1952, Simpson’s parents divorced. His mother raised him in San Francisco’s rough Potrero Hill district along with a brother and two sisters. 

He formed a gang called the Persian Warriors when he was 13 years old. In 1962, he spent nearly a week at the San Francisco Youth Guidance Center after a confrontation.

Simpson shone on the playing field for Galileo High School, despite his mediocre grades preventing him from enrolling in a major college football program.

He was accepted to the University of Southern California as a halfback after overwhelming the rivalry at City College of San Francisco.

Football Career

O.J Simpson rose to prominence as a two-time All-American halfback for the University of Southern California Trojans, where he set NCAA records and won the Heisman Trophy in 1968.

O.J Simpson was listed as Top 100 Players in 2010

O.J Simpson was listed as Top 100 Players in 2010

Simpson made his NFL debut with the Buffalo Bills in 1969, but he didn’t reach his full potential until the offense was changed to highlight his running ability. 

Simpson, nicknamed “The Juice,” ran for 1,000 yards five consecutive years (1972-76) and led the NFL in that category four times. 

He was the first NFL player to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a single season in 1973. With 23 touchdowns in 1975 and 273 rushing yards against the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day 1976, the running back set league records.

Acting and Commentating Work

Simpson went on to have a successful career as a sportscaster and actress after retirement from professional football in 1979.

While still a professional athlete, he dabbled in acting, most famously in the 1974 film The Klansman, in which he played a man falsely accused of murder by the police.

Simpson went on to play a dimwitted assistant cop in The Naked Gun (1988) and its sequels and appearing in Hertz rental-car advertisements. 

He also served as an analyst for the NFL on NBC brand and Monday Night Football.

Movies and Television Series based on O.J Simpson’s life

Wives and Children

Simpson has five children, four of whom are still alive, from two marriages.

Simpson married Marguerite L. Whitley on June 24, 1967. They have three daughters, Arnelle, Jason, and Aaren. 

O.J Simpson and his first wife Marguerite Whitley with their children Arnelle and Jason

O.J Simpson and his first wife Marguerite Whitley with their children Arnelle and Jason

Aaren Lashone Simpson, who was conceived in 1977, drowned in the family’s swimming pool just a month before her second birthday. 

Marguerite Simpson and Simpson divorced in 1979.

Simpson met Nicole Brown, then a teenager, while still married to his first wife. Simpson married Brown in 1985, the same year he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the couple has two children: Justin and Sydney.

O.J Simpson and his second wife Nicole Brown with their children Justin and Sydney

O.J Simpson and his second wife Nicole Brown with their children Justin and Sydney

Brown lied to friends and family about her marriage, claiming that Simpson was physically violent.

The retired football player pleaded no contest to spousal battery during a confrontation between the two at a 1989 New Year’s Eve celebration, at which he reportedly tried to kill her. 

In an interview with ESPN, he downplayed the incident, saying: “We had an altercation. We were both to blame. There were no injuries. It wasn’t a huge deal, and we went on our business.” 

In 1992, Nicole filed for divorce from Simpson.

Deaths of Brown Simpson and Goldman

On June 12, 1994, Brown Simpson and her friend Goldman were found stabbed to death outside of her Brentwood condominium.

The O.J Simpson Trial- 1995

The O.J Simpson Trial- 1995

Simpson was suspected of the murders based on evidence.

Simpson was supposed to surrender by 11 a.m. on June 17, but he eluded capture until later in the day when he made a phone call on the Santa Ana Freeway. 

The police followed, culminating in a nationally televised slow-speed chase of a white Ford Bronco driven by ex-NFL star Al “A.C.” Cowlings with Simpson in the backseat.

Arrest and Plea

On the evening of June 17, Simpson peacefully surrendered at his Brentwood mansion.

Even though he was found with a pistol, his passport, $9,000 in cash, and a mask, he maintained that he “wasn’t hiding.” He later pled ” he is definitely, 100 percent not guilty” to the allegations of murder.

Murder Trial

Simpson’s murder trial, nicknamed the “Trial of the Century,” began on January 24, 1995, with opening statements and ended on October 3, 1995, with Simpson’s acquittal.

On Simpson’s federal murder trial, the jury was kept out of communication for almost nine months – longer than any California jury in history.

‘Dream Team’ Lawyers

Simpson allegedly put together a legal “dream squad” of attorneys who cost him an extra $50,000 per day, which he allegedly paid for in part by selling football memorabilia.

Johnnie Cochran led the dream squad, including Robert Kardashian, Robert Shapiro, Barry Scheck, Alan Dershowitz, and F. Lee Bailey. 

Despite the overwhelming evidence against Simpson, the lawyers successfully cast suspicion on the evidence’s treatment.

Acquittal

When a glove resembling the one discovered near the dead bodies surfaced on Simpson’s home, DNA tests linked him to the bloodstains left behind, lead prosecutor Marcia Clark seemed to have a good argument against Simpson.

However, in his closing remarks, Cochran famously mocked the matching gloves, saying, “If it doesn’t suit, you must acquit.”

He was acquitted of both murders on October 3, 1995. With 150 million viewers tuning in to hear the ruling, one of the most-watched events in television history.

Civil Trial

Simpson was sent back to court for a civil hearing, and in February 1997, he was found responsible for Brown Simpson’s and Goldman’s deaths.

His restitution payment to their relatives was $33.5 million.

Simpson relocated to Florida in 1999, owing to a state statute that prohibited his house from being taken to help pay legal fines. 

He raised funds by auctioning off memorabilia and hoped to return to show business. Still, he was back in the news in December 2000 after reportedly assaulting another driver in a road rage incident. 

In October of the same year, he was found not guilty.

2008 Armed Robbery and Kidnapping

Simpson and Clarence “C.J.” Stewart was guilty of 12 counts of armed robbery and abduction in October 2008.

At gunpoint, they assaulted sports memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas hotel room in 2007. Simpson, who was apprehended right away, said he was only attempting to recover his belongings.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sentenced Simpson and Stewart to 33 years in jail in December 2008.

O.J Simpson: Years in Prison

For armed robbery and rape, Simpson served almost nine years in jail.

On December 5, 2008, he was sentenced to life, and on October 1, 2017, he was released on parole.

Simpson filed for a new trial in May 2013 to re-investigate his robbery/kidnapping charges, alleging that one of his lawyers, Yale Galanter, had given him bad counsel during his 2008 trial.

“It was my property. I practiced what I believed to be the rules.” In a Las Vegas trial, the former running back testified. 

“My lawyer advised me that I couldn’t enter a man’s bed. Nobody’s room was broken into by me. I didn’t want to bully either of the guys. Even if they said they didn’t rob anything, the guys had my belongings.”

Five of Simpson’s convictions from 2008 that landed him in jail have been upheld. These include two for rape, two for robbery, and one for burglary with a weapon.

The Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners decided based on Simpson’s history of prior felony convictions, including the fact that he had to serve time in prison under related terms.

Later that year, Clark County District Judge Linda Marie Bell rejected his appeal for a new trial.

A Nevada Supreme Court panel denied Simpson’s legal team’s request for a retrial in September 2015, saying there was no need to reverse the lower court’s verdict. 

Simpson was transferred to the Lovelock Correctional Center in Lovelock, Nevada, to finish his sentence.

On July 20, 2017, Simpson, 70, appeared in front of the Nevada Board of Parole in Carson City by video conference from Lovelock Correctional Center to make his case for release.

Simpson faced questions from the four-member parole board about his conviction at the trial, live-streamed and shown on television. 

He said he knew the memorabilia sellers personally and that he bought the house he stole from them.

Also, he said he did not point a pistol at anyone because he had bodyguards. 

“I’ve pretty much lived a conflict-free life,” he said. “I was never the one to get into street brawls.”

“I’m not a man who led a criminal life,” Simpson said. “I’m a fairly straightforward sniper.”

When asked about his time in prison, he said that he began a Baptist church service and followed all of the laws.

He said, “I’ve served my time.” “I did it as well and as politely as anyone could….” I haven’t complained in nine years, and what I’ve done is tried to help.”

Simpson also expressed his desire to spend more time with his family once he is released: “I’ve lost a lot of time, including 36 birthdays with my children.”

Arnelle, his oldest sister, also testified on behalf of the family in favor of Simpson’s release. 

One of Simpson’s robbery victims, Bruce Fromong, also appeared on his behalf.

Simpson’s counsel has said that Simpson apologized to Alfred Beardsley, the other robbery suspect who died in 2015 and that the two of them “made things right.”

Simpson was released from Nevada’s Lovelock Correctional Institute shortly after midnight on October 1. 

The Department of Corrections posted a brief video of Simpson exiting jail.

O.J Simpson: ‘If I Did It’

Simpson planned to release If I Did It, a ghostwritten account of how he would have committed the Brown Simpson/Goldman murders, in late 2006. 

But after a publishing contract with HarperCollins fell apart, a federal bankruptcy judge granted the book’s rights to Goldman’s relatives.

O.J Simpson's If I Did It

O.J Simpson’s If I Did It

After the Goldman family added commentary, the book was renamed If I Did It: Confessions of a Killer. They published the book in September 2007.

‘The Lost Confession’

Simpson taped an accompanying interview with HarperCollins publisher Judith Regan at the book’s initial intended release.

However, the victims’ families put it on hold. They were concerned that Simpson would benefit from its show.

The video was shown as part of a 2-hour special titled O.J. Simpson: The Lost Confession. 

In the interview, Simpson explains a “fictional” scenario in which he runs into Goldman at his ex-house wife’s and takes a knife from his friend “Charlie” as the situation escalates.

O.J Simpson: Recent Years

Simpson is now on parole in the Las Vegas area after spending nine years in prison for armed robbery.

In October 2017, Simpson was released from a Nevada jail.

In 2017, Simpson’s lawyer Malcolm LaVergne told Vanity Fair journal, “Everyone is all about reality shows.” “We get a lot of calls from people who say, ‘We’ve got a $50 million offer for Simpson.’ 

He’s a senior citizen who is content with his life and is now breathing, learning to exhale after a decade in prison.”

However, not long after his release from jail, Simpson was back in the headlines for poor conduct.

He was ejected from the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas in November 2017 after allegedly being intoxicated and cracking glasses at the hotel lounge. 

The security guards who escorted him out were said to have worked for him.

‘The People v. O.J. Simpson’

For the 2016 series American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson, the saga of the 1994 murders and his eventual court prosecution was brought back into the spotlight.

Cuba Gooding Jr. played the part of the deceased football hero in the film.

O.J. Simpson: Net Worth

According to court documents filed after his 1992 divorce from Nicole, OJ had a net worth of $10.8 million at the time.

That’s around $18 million in today’s money. The value of his Brentwood estate accounted for about half of his net worth. 

In 1977, he paid $650,000 for the property (roughly $2.5 million in 2016 dollars). 

In addition, O.J.’s monthly salary in 1992 was $55,000, according to the same filings. Since inflation, that’s the equivalent of $92,000 a month, or almost $1.1 million a year today. His Hertz sponsorship deal provided the bulk of his earnings.

O.J. promised to pay Nicole $10,000 a month in child custody and a one-time settlement of $433,750 ($730,000 after inflation) to end the divorce.

Nicole was also given a rental property in San Francisco by O.J. O.J. stayed in his Brentwood mansion until 1997. 

Despite being purchased for $4 million in foreclosure, the house was demolished in 1998.

What about O.J Simpson’s Pension Money?

O.J. was entitled to a pension from the NFL until he reached the age of 55.

It’s generally assumed that O.J. waited until he turned 65 to start receiving his pension checks to collect a higher monthly payout ($10,565 instead of $4,034). If this is right, the NFL started paying him $10,565 a month in 2012.

Since he couldn’t reach or use the money while incarcerated, O.J.’s bank account would have accumulated about $602,000.

According to one of his close associates, O.J. has a fully financed personal pension worth somewhere between $2 and $5 million, based on how the funds are spent and work.

According to reports, he also has a Screen Actors Guild pension that costs about $1700 per month. 

Pension money, fortunately for O.J., is unaffected by bankruptcy or legal decision, so it is off-limits to the Goldman family.

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Last modified: May 17, 2021
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