Orenthal James Simpson (1947-2024) has died of cancer

Orenthal James Simpson (1947-2024) has died of cancer

The family of Orenthal James Simpson announced Thursday morning that ‘O.J.’ died of prostate cancer yesterday at the age of 76.

Simpson was acquitted of double-murder charges in 1995 in what was dubbed as ‘The Trial of the Century’ in Los Angeles. He was accused of the brutal homicides that left his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ron Goldman dead from stab wounds at her condo on June 12 of 1994.

Brown had filed for divorce from Simpson on Feb. 25 of 1992. They were married for more than seven years and had two children together.

Upon arriving at the murder scene, police quickly realized that one of the victims was Simpson’s ex-wife and their kids were upstairs sleeping. Therefore, Simpson had to be notified right away.

He had a long history of domestic abuse in his relationship with Brown. Detective Mark Fuhrman, who had arrived at Brown’s home after more than a dozen officers had begun the initial investigation, had been the first officer to arrive at Simpson’s house after one of Brown’s many calls to 911 in 1985.

In a 2016 interview with Ezra Edelman for the ESPN documentary, O.J.: Made in America, Fuhrman said he discovered Brown hiding in her Mercedes with Simpson trying to break the windshield with a baseball bat.

According to Fuhrman, he twice demanded that Simpson put the bat down. When he refused, Fuhrman took out his baton and then Simpson quickly obeyed orders and apologized.

When given the opportunity, Brown declined to press charges. Fuhrman told her, “Okay, it’s your life.”

The lead detectives at the murder scene, Tom Lange and Philip Vannatter, were notified that Fuhrman had been to Simpson’s home on Rockingham for a domestic-violence call. Lange, Vannatter, Fuhrman and Ronald Phillips then drove to Simpson’s residence, where his white Bronco was parked on the road.

When Fuhrman found multiple blood drops on the door of the Bronco and inside the vehicle, he was instructed by his superiors to climb over a wall to enter the gated property and let the rest of them in. At trial, the officers explained that the blood on the Bronco created exigent circumstances – concern that Simpson might be another victim – that gave them the right to enter the estate without a search warrant.

Fuhrman and the other officers found Kato Kaelin in a guest house. He told them that he had heard a loud sound late the previous night.

While investigating what might have caused the sound outside of the guest house, Fuhrman discovered a bloody glove on the property that matched a black glove back at the crime scene.

Kaelin explained to the officers that Simpson had flown to Chicago on a red eye for work several hours beforehand. Officers were eventually able to contact Simpson at his Chicago hotel and inform him of the murders, imploring him to return to L.A. on the next flight.

Upon his return home, Simpson was briefly placed in handcuffs. He agreed to speak with officers without an attorney, and that awkward interview clearly revealed how guilty he was of this horrific crime.

Nevertheless, thanks to his fame and notoriety, Simpson wasn’t taken into custody and was allowed to leave while authorities continued to investigate. From there, international speculation began to build that Simpson – one of the most famous athletes in American history who had parlayed a Hall of Fame football career into high-paying jobs in broadcasting, acting and commercials with Hertz, the rental car company – was the prime suspect in two savage homicides.

Five days after the murders on June 17, Simpson was supposed to arrive at Parker Center to surrender at 11:00 a.m. Pacific. But when he hadn’t showed up by mid-afternoon, LAPD Commander David Gascon announced that Simpson had not showed up for his scheduled arraignment at a wild press conference.

An hour later, the L.A. district attorney Gil Garcetti angrily told reporters at his own presser, “Mr. Simpson is a fugitive of justice right now! Anyone helping Simpson flee will be prosecuted as a felon.”

Several hours later after a warrant for Simpson’s best friend, Al ‘A.C.’ Cowlings, was also issued, Cowlings and Simpson were spotted on the 5 Freeway in Cowling’s white Bronco. Next, the most surreal and casual police pursuit in American history ensued.

Dozens of officers followed the fugitives as they slowly coasted down the freeway toward Simpson’s home in Brentwood, an upscale neighborhood in Los Angeles. Simpson was on the phone with Lange and Vannatter, who had been told by Cowlings that he was holding a gun to his head.

As the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets faced each other at Madison Square Garden in New York City in the 1994 NBA Finals, NBC’s broadcast had the game shown on the smaller version of a split screen in the corner, while the larger portion of the split screen showed the Bronco Chase.

All of the other major networks – CBS, ABC and CNN – cut away from their coverage to broadcast Simpson, who was supposedly threatening to commit suicide, running from the LAPD while laying down in the back of Cowlings’ Bronco.

The detectives pleaded with Simpson to throw the gun out the window. When the Bronco arrived at Simpson’s house, a negotiation ensued for him to leave the Bronco.

In vintage O.J. fashion, he refused to put the gun down until the sun set and he could surrender in the dark without the public able to view the events.

Simpson looked pathetic at his first court appearance. However, he quickly assembled a high-profile group of lawyers that were dubbed the ‘Dream Team’ three years after that moniker was used for the United States men’s basketball Olympic team that featured Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley and others.

By the time the trial started, Simpson was back in his superstar role, relishing his time in the spotlight and always in character when the jury entered the courtroom.

After a slew of unfathomable errors made by the prosecution, in particular Christopher Darden’s moronic decision – one that was made against the wishes of lead prosecutor Marcia Clark and the rest of the state’s team of lawyers – to have Simpson try on the gloves that were found at his estate and the murder scene.

As Clark intensely stared at Darden (with a look that said, “What on earth are you doing?!”), Simpson tried on the gloves, but they didn’t fit.

Various theories have been floated about why the gloves didn’t fit a year later. One was that Simpson purposely quit taking his arthritic medication, which caused his hands to swell.

Famed defense attorney Johnnie Cochran had been given the captain’s role of the Dream Team by Simpson, and he put on the performance of his life. He was given major assists by Judge Lance Ito, who allowed the defense to play the race card and essentially put Fuhrman on trial for being a racist (instead of Simpson for being a serial wife beater and a double murderer).

In his closing argument, Cochran masterfully pointed out Darden’s inexplicable error, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit!”

Just as Cochran predicted, Simpson was found not guilty following a seemingly endless six-month trial. Cochran exclaimed, “You’re going home, O.J., you’re going home!”

Cochran’s brilliant use of the race card in creating reasonable doubt about Fuhrman and the LAPD (remember this was the mid-90s, only a few years after a group of all-white police officers were acquitted of the recorded beating of Rodney King) was ironic since it pertained to Simpson getting off for murdering two white people.

That’s because no black athlete worked harder at distancing himself from the black community than Simpson, who often said that he “was not black or white. I’m just O.J.”

Simpson lived in Brentwood, where few black people had houses. Simpson spent his days at country clubs, playing golf with his white friends. That’s how he spent his time, hanging out with his friends, who were mostly wealthy white people.

The parents of Goldman, Fred Goldman and Sharon Rufo, and Nicole’s father, Lou Brown, filed a civil suit against Simpson in 1996 for wrongful death. Unlike the criminal trial, defendants can be called to the stand in a civil trial.

When Simpson took the stand, he was caught lying throughout his testimony. Truth be told, Simpson was lying more often than not when his mouth was moving in the last three decades of his existence.

Fuhrman had nothing to do with the civil trial, and the defense wasn’t allowed to allege racism from the LAPD or the crime lab, which had made critical mistakes with its handling of the blood from the crime scene and Simpson’s home in the criminal trial.

Simpson was found guilty in the civil trial, with the families awarded $33.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages. He was forced to file for bankruptcy, and his Heisman Trophy was seized and sold at auction for $255,000.

Simpson moved across the country to Florida in order that his NFL pension checks couldn’t be seized and, to stick it to the Brown family one more time, Nicole and O.J.’s kids, Sydney and Justin, went with him.

O.J.’s life in Florida was a Clown Show filled with heavy cocaine use and a new young girlfriend who looked like a Trailer Trash version of Nicole. Simpson spent his days playing golf, hanging out with low-rent human beings and partying.

In a wild reversal of fortunes in September of 2007, Simpson was in Las Vegas to attend a wedding. Tom Riccio, a sports memorabilia dealer who was Simpson’s friend, made him aware of two other sports memorabilia dealers, Alfred Beardsley and Bruce Fromong, who had a plethora of O.J. Simpson items available for sale.

Riccio rented a room at the Palace Station. He had Beardsley contact Fromong about a client wanting to buy a large amount of Simpson’s memorabilia, not knowing that Simpson was that client.

The items were spread out on a bed in a display. After attending a pre-wedding dinner, Simpson and five accomplices drove from the Palms to Palace Station.

They entered the room and Simpson demanded his group not let anybody leave. An argument between Simpson and Beardsley about where the items came from ensued.

At some point, one of O.J.’s accomplices, Michael McClinton, threatened Fromong with a gun. Simpson’s group proceeded to stuff the memorabilia items, which also included autographed Pete Rose baseballs and Joe Montana lithographs, into pillowcases before leaving and going back to the wedding.

Fromong reported the incident to police and three days later, Simpson and his accomplices were arrested on three counts of kidnapping and nine other various counts of robbery, burglary, assault with a deadly weapon and coercion with a deadly weapon.

As it turned out, Riccio had recorded the entire incident on an audiotape and eventually sold it to TMZ.

Exactly 13 years to the day after Simpson was acquitted on the murder charges in L.A., he was convicted on all charges in Nevada on Oct. 3 of 2008.

The judge sentenced Simpson to 33 years in prison with the possibility of parole in nine years. Simpson was granted parole and released from prison in October of 2017.

Prior to becoming an actor, marrying Nicole and starring in commercials for Hertz, Simpson had won the Heisman in 1968 during a decorated collegiate career as a running back at USC.

He was the No. 1 overall pick by the Buffalo Bills in the 1969 NFL Draft. Simpson led the NFL in rushing yards in 1972, 1973, 1975 and 1976, becoming the first RB to rush for more than 2,000 yards (2,003 in a 14-game season) in 1973.

Simpson was a five-time Pro-Bowler, the 1973 NFL MVP and was selected to the 1970s All-Decade Team. His No. 32 was retired at USC, and he was eventually inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

In his final two NFL seasons in 1978 and 1979, Simpson started 18 of 23 games he played for the San Francisco 49ers. However, knee injuries had taken their toll on him by then.

Simpson retired as one of the NFL’s best all-time RBs, rushing for 11,236 career yards and 61 touchdowns.

After his release from prison in Nevada, Simpson lived out the rest of his days in Las Vegas. He created a Twitter account, often making videos to give his opinions on fantasy football, politics and yes, criminal trials.

It would be unfair to compare Simpson to Aaron Hernandez, the former star tight end for the New England Patriots who was convicted of the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd while he was an active NFL player.

That’s because Hernandez never competed with Simpson in the fame department. Simpson was an American icon before murdering Nicole and Ron.

Hernandez’s fall from grace was astounding, no doubt about it. He was a star player who was wildly popular in Boston for his prominent role for the Patriots, but Hernandez never approached the fame of his college teammates like Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin and Brandon Spikes during his playing days at Florida, where he was part of a 2008 team that won the national championship.

There’s no word in sports that I detest more than ‘legacy,’ but I’m happy to discuss it in terms of O.J.

When his death was announced yesterday, sparking conversation about one of the most popular football players (pre-1994, that is) to ever live, the first thing discussed was the double homicide on Bundy.

For those who talked about his playing days at USC and for the Bills first, perhaps they weren’t educated enough on the events of the night of June 12, 1994?

For example, after Simpson had first killed Nicole and then Ron, who police theorized arrived at the condo while O.J. was butchering Nicole, with dozens of stab wounds, he walked back over to Nicole before fleeing the scene. The wounds and blood evidence showed that Simpson lifted Nicole up by the back of her hair and then slit her throat, nearly leaving her decapitated.

And that is the disgraceful legacy of Orenthal James Simpson, an individual who always wanted to be praised and loved for his athletic accomplishments – and was, in bunches – for more than 40 years of his life, but then lived more than 30 years, including nearly nine in prison, known only as a jealous maniac who got away with double murder, and then was dumb enough to eventually get locked up for another crime anyway.