The Life of O.J. Simpson

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O.J Simpson (left) pictured in 1990 visiting troops who served in Operation Desert Shield. Although he had a controversial history, Simpson was partial to public appearances. (Photo courtesy of Public Domain)

On April 10, 2024, famed Buffalo Bills running back Orenthal James (O.J.) Simpson passed away in Las Vegas. After a battle with a currently unknown form of cancer, the Simpson family announced his passing on April 11.

Simpson was born on July 9, 1947 in San Francisco, California. In his adolescent years, he attended Galileo High School, where he played football with the Galileo Lions, planting seeds for his future football career.

During his 11-year football career, Simpson (referred to as  “The Juice”) came to be known as one of the greatest running backs of all time. Simpson played with the Buffalo Bills from 1969-1977, and briefly with the San Francisco 49ers from 1978-1979. 

During his career, Simpson rushed over 11,236 yards, scored 76 touchdowns, and won four NFL rushing titles. As of 2024, Simpson still holds the record for the highest average yards-per-game in a season, over 143.1. This record has only come close to by Adrian Peterson, who averaged 131.1 yards in the 2012 season.

O.J. Simpson also took an interest in TV and Film, becoming a sports broadcaster of NBC’s and ABC’s Monday Night Football, as well as appearing in all three “Naked Gun” films. Simpson was also the main celebrity spokesperson for Hertz rental cars.

This exciting life would quickly become overshadowed when, on the night of June 12, 1994, Simpson’s ex-wife Nicole Brown was murdered along with her friend Ron Goldman. Years before the murder, O.J. Simpson was charged with spousal abuse, which caused Simpson to become the prime suspect in the case.

When police attempted to arrest Simpson, he hid inside a friend’s car and attempted to escape. Over 100 million people tuned in to watch the police chase, which ended with the police arresting Simpson at his home.

The growing popularity of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, along with Simpson’s popularity caused the story to quickly pick up, and Simpson’s trial became a national affair.

At the end of the trial’s eleven-month span, the broadcast of the final verdict brought in over 150 million viewers. The decision of “Not Guilty” proved controversial with many in the country. One of the main selling points of Simpson’s innocence was that a bloody glove found at the crime scene did not fit Simpson, and as his absurd defense attorney Johnny Cohran said, “If the glove don’t fit you must acquit.”

This trial became what Simpson was most known for, and shows such as South Park, Family Guy, and SNL relentlessly mocked him for years over it.

Simpson’s life continued on a downward spiral when he was arrested, convicted, and imprisoned for an armed robbery of a sports memorabilia store. Simpson was sentenced to 33 years in prison but only served from 2008 to 2017 before getting out on parole.

From then, Simpson lived relatively quietly in Nevada, but his legacy still remains. Simpson’s death has now caused a resurgence of online discussion and memes about his past crimes. 

Although today Simpson may only be known for his wrongdoing, he was still one of the most accomplished football players of all time. 

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