Former US football star O.J. Simpson, who was acquitted of murdering his ex-wife in a spectacular trial in 1995, is dead. Simpson died of cancer on Wednesday at the age of 76, his family announced on the online platform X, formerly Twitter. His lawyer also confirmed the news of Simpson’s death to the online portal “TMZ”.

Simpson was surrounded by his children and grandchildren when he died, the family said. “During this time of transition, his family asks that their wishes for privacy and civility be respected.”

Simpson’s on-field achievements will be preserved in the archives of the Ohio State Football Hall of Fame, into which he was inducted in 1985, Hall of Fame President Jim Porter said. The foundation, which awards the Heisman Trophy for achievements in college football in the USA, expressed sadness for the deceased athlete on the X platform. Simpson received the high award in 1968.

“No great loss to the world”

But there were other voices too. “This is not a great loss for the world,” Fred Goldman told US broadcaster NBC. Simpson’s death is more of a reminder that his son Ron has been dead for many years. Along with Nicole Brown, Simpson’s ex-wife, her acquaintance Ronald Goldman was also murdered in 1994.

Reality star Caitlyn Jenner (74) expressed on X that it was good to be rid of Simpson. Jenner, formerly known as Olympic decathlete Bruce, was temporarily married to Kris Jenner, mother of the Kardashian siblings. Kris Jenner, in turn, was friends with Nicole Brown, while her ex-husband Robert Kardashian, who died in 2003, was part of the defense team as a lawyer in the spectacular trial surrounding the murders of Simpson’s ex-wife and her friend Goldman.

Successful career

Orenthal James – “O.J.” was born. – Simpson on July 9, 1947 in San Francisco. His athletic talent was evident as a child and he soon set records in football and track and field at the prestigious University of Southern California. Simpson was nicknamed “The Juice” because of his agility.

As a professional, he made it into the NFL football league, was successful for the San Francisco 49ers and the Buffalo Bills until the end of the 1970s and set records for the longest runs and most touchdowns. After his career ended, the charismatic Simpson became a popular figure, appearing in films and television series and also commentating on sporting events.

Stroke of fate and suspicion of murder

In his private life, Simpson had to cope with a stroke of fate: his third child, daughter Aaren, drowned in a pool in 1979. Two years later, Simpson and his wife Marguerite, whom he married in 1967, divorced. In 1985 he married Nicole Brown and had two more children with her. The couple divorced in 1992.

Then comes the fateful year of 1994 for Simpson: The ex-football star is suspected of having murdered Brown and her acquaintance Ronald Goldman. On the night of June 12, 1994, a walker discovered the stabbed victims lying in pools of blood in front of Brown’s home in Brentwood, Los Angeles. Suspicion fell on ex-husband Simpson and an arrest warrant was issued.

On June 17, 1994, Simpson was supposed to turn himself in to the authorities – but he fled in a white Ford Bronco. Simpson sits in the back seat and temporarily holds a gun to his temple. His friend and fellow athlete Al Cowlings is behind the wheel. Helicopters and police cars follow the cars on the freeway in Los Angeles, the whole nation follows the spectacle live on television.

Acquittal in the trial of the century

The hunt finally ends in front of Simpson’s villa, where the then 46-year-old surrenders. He comes to court and protests his innocence. What follows is a court drama lasting around eight months that captivates the entire nation, goes down in US judicial history – and ends with a surprise: In 1995, Simpson was acquitted in the trial of the century.

The legal community was shocked, as the evidence against Simpson in the circumstantial evidence trial was considered extremely overwhelming. It was only a small satisfaction for the victims’ families when Simpson was found guilty in a civil trial in 1997 and ordered to pay a fine worth millions.

Because of another incident, Simpson ends up in prison. In 2008 he was sentenced to 33 years in prison in the US state of Nevada for armed robbery and assault. In a hotel room in Las Vegas, he and his accomplices pressured two collectors of fan items into handing over personal memorabilia.

Life away from the public

In 2017 he got out of prison much earlier. Since then, amateur golfer Simpson has lived a life away from the public eye in Las Vegas.

He only occasionally spoke out in public – but he no longer wanted to talk about the murders and the trial. His last message on “I’m from the [San Francisco] Bay and I’m heading to the Bay.”