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O.J. Simpson dies at age 76


Troubled athlete/actor succumbed from prostate cancer

O.J. Simpson, the USC and NFL star running back-turned-actor whose acquittal for the murders of his ex-wife and her friend in the downtown Los Angeles “Trial of the Century'' changed the face of the criminal justice system, has died from cancer, his family announced today. He was 76.

“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,'' the Simpson family posted on social media.

Simpson was battling prostate cancer and was in hospice care, according to reports by TMZ.

A Hall of Fame football player and Heisman Trophy winner when he played at USC, transitioned to sportscasting and acting after his football career, including appearances in films such as “The Towering Inferno'' and the comedic “Naked Gun'' movie series. He also starred in a series of memorable commercials for Hertz, showing him sprinting through airports and dodging other passengers and luggage like football linebackers.

But Simpson became a cultural icon following the killings of ex-wife and her friend in 1994, a nationally broadcast police chase on L.A. freeways with Simpson in back of a white Ford Bronco, and his ultimate acquittal of murder charges following one of the most high-profile court cases in history.

Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman were found stabbed to death on June 12, 1994, outside of Brown Simpson's home in Brentwood. Days later, Simpson was identified by police as a suspect in the killings.

Simpson, with friend Al Cowlings, led police on a chase in a white Ford Bronco through Southern California five days after the killings. An estimated 95 million Americans watched the chase through Los Angeles on television that lasted for two hours.

Simpson eventually surrendered to police and was placed on trial for the murders. Overseen by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lance Ito, the trial became a national spectacle, with gavel-to-gavel live television coverage and the often-theatrical antics of Simpson's “Dream Team'' of attorneys, most notably the late Johnnie Cochran, who immortalized the line “If it does not

fit, you must acquit.'' The conduct of the trial led to questions about Ito's ability to control the high-profile attorneys and swarming media, and also about whether such intense media coverage should be permissible in criminal trials.

The trial dug deep into American racial divides, with Simpson's attorneys sowing seeds of doubt about whether Simpson–a Black man, albeit a rich and famous one–was being fairly treated by the U.S. justice system and police, particularly in a murder case with two White victims.

Simpson was acquitted of the murder charges in October 1995, 11 months after the trial started, and it exposed deep racial divides across the country, with opinions of the jury's decision differing wildly in Black and White communities.

Questions about his guilt in the face of what prosecutors portrayed as irrefutable DNA evidence lingered until Simpson's death.

In 1997, a jury in Santa Monica found Simpson civilly liable for the deaths of Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson, and he was ordered to pay their families $33.5 million in damages. Much of that judgment is believed to have never been paid.

Twelve years after the “Trial of the Century,'' Simpson was found guilty of kidnapping and armed robbery for breaking into a Las Vegas hotel and casino with other men in September 2007 and stealing at gunpoint what he claimed was his own sports memorabilia. He was sentenced to 33 years in prison a year later and was released on parole on Oct. 1, 2017.

Los Angeles civil rights attorney Carl Douglas, who was a partner of Cochran and served on Simpson's criminal defense team, said in a statement Thursday he was “shocked and surprised to hear of O.J. Simpson's death at the relatively young age of 76.''

“He is one of the most famous clients that I have ever represented in my 44 years as a lawyer, and I expect our names will forever be linked together in some way,'' he said. “My sincere condolences go out to his four children. May he rest in peace.''

In recent years he maintained a relatively low profile, although he was active on social media, posting videos commenting on college and NFL football and other topics. His most recent video was posted in support of the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl.

Simpson is survived by four children, Arnelle and Jason, from his first marriage, and Sydney and Justin from his marriage to Simpson Brown.