Former American footballer OJ Simpson who was controversially cleared of double murder dies age 76 after cancer battle

11 April 2024, 15:49 | Updated: 11 April 2024, 17:06

O.J. Simpson has died at the age of 76
O.J. Simpson has died at the age of 76. Picture: Getty Images
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

OJ Simpson has died at the age of 76, his family has said.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

In a statement on X, his family said: "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."

Simpson rose to fame as an NFL star, but stood trial accused of murdering his ex-wife and a waiter in 1994.

He was cleared but later found to have been responsible for the death of Ron Goldman in a civil trial.

OJ Simpson has died at 76

Simpson became one of the most notorious figures in American history due to being charged with the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman in 1994.

His trial was televised around the country and, although he was acquitted, he was later found liable for their deaths in a civil lawsuit and was ordered to pay £26.7million pounds to the victims of the families.

In 2017 he was released from prison after serving nine years of a 33-year sentence for armed robbery and kidnapping having been arrested in Las Vegas a decade earlier.

The former NFL player has died
Simpson played in the NFL for 11 seasons, primarily with the Buffalo Bills. Picture: Getty Images

Who was O.J.?

Orenthal James Simpson was born in San Francisco in 1947. He grew up in the in the housing projects of the Potrero Hill neighborhood.

Simpson got involved in football in 1965 after entrolling at City College of San Francisco where he played both ways as a running back and defensive back.

He later joined the world of professional football and played in the NFL for 11 seasons. He was a running back for the Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers from 1969 to 1979.

He is regarded as one of the greatest running backs of all time.

Read more: Domestic violence campaigner slams sentencing ‘disparity’ and says male on female violence ‘not taken as seriously’

O.J. with former wife Nicole Brown
O.J. with former wife Nicole Brown. Picture: Getty Images

In 1967, O.J. married Marguerite L. Whitley with whom he had three children, Arnelle, Jason and Aaren. Aaren later drowned in the family swimming pool aged one.

O.J. met his second wife Nicole Brown Simpson in 1977 when she was working as a waitress in a nightclub in Beverly Hills.

They married in 1985, five years after his retirement from professional football.

Read more: Woman stabbed to death in house near Hyde Park named, with police still hunting for killer

The marriage lasted seven years, during which Simpson pleaded no contest to spousal abuse in 1989.

Brown filed for divorce in 1992, citing irreconcilable differences.

Nicole was founded dead in 1994 with her friend, Ron Goldman. The pair were found stabbed to death outside Nicole's condo in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles.

'Trial of century'

Simpson was an immediate person of interest in their murders due to pleading no contest to a domestic violence charge.

After agreeing but failing to hand himself in to police, Simpson became the subject of a low-speed pursuit by police while riding as a passenger in a white 1993 Ford Bronco SUV.

Simpson was armed in the back of the vehicle with a pistol, holding it to his head and threatening to shoot himself if he was not taken back to his Brentwood estate, Al Cowlings said. Cowlings was a friend and former teammate of Simpson, and the owner of the vehicle.

TV stations interrupted coverage of the 1994 NBA Finals to broadcast the incident live to viewers.

The event was described as "the most famous ride on American shores since Paul Revere's" and was watched by an estimated audience of 95 million people.

Motorists stopped to wave as police cars pursued the Ford Bronco
Motorists stopped to wave as police cars pursued the Ford Bronco. Picture: Getty

Simpson was later found not guilty for the murders following an 11-month trial.

An estimated 100 million people nationwide tuned in to watch or listen to the verdict.

Simpson was later found responsible in a civil trial ordered to pay more than $33m in damages to the families.

He was later jailed following an armed robbery in Las Vegas in 2007 and served a lengthy sentence before being released in 2017.

He was discharged from parole in December 2021.

Read more: Body of woman found in Croydon park 'cut up using power tools', court hears

The People V OJ Simpson: American Crime Story - which aired in 2016 - won a number of Emmys for its portrayal of the murder trial of the former NFL star.

It starred Sarah Paulson and Cuba Gooding Jr as Marcia Clark and OJ Simpson respectively in the 10-part dramatisation of the trial that mesmerised the world in 1994.

The series also starred Sterling K Brown, John Travolta, Friends star David Schwimmer and Kenneth Choi.