O.J. Simpson’s Family Announces his Death at the age of 76 from Cancer

O.J. Simpson, a well-known figure in the world of football, passed away on Wednesday, as confirmed by his family. He passed away at the age of 76.

Simpson had been fighting cancer and receiving care in hospice. The attorney of Simpson has also confirmed his passing to TMZ.

“On April 10th, our father, Orenthal James Simpson, passed away after his courageous fight against cancer,” stated Simpson’s family on X. “Surrounded by his children and grandchildren, he found comfort in their presence.”

“O.J. Simpson achieved a remarkable feat in a 14-game season by becoming the first player to surpass 2,000 rushing yards,” stated Jim Porter, president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His on-field contributions will be forever remembered in the Hall’s archives in Canton, Ohio.

Regardless of Simpson’s accomplishments as a football player, he will forever be associated with a highly publicised murder trial that captivated the nation and caused deep divisions along racial lines. The moment he was acquitted of the 1994 murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman was a highly anticipated event in television history.

Similarly, Simpson’s slow-speed Ford Bronco chase through Southern California motorways, following the murder charges and his failure to surrender, captivated audiences.
Well before the highly publicised trial that captivated a significant portion of the American population, Simpson’s celebrity status was unquestionable.

He gained immense popularity as a football player and achieved celebrity status beyond the game.
O.J. Simpson rose to fame as a football star during his time at USC. His talent and skill on the pitch earned him recognition and admiration. James Simpson, born on July 9, 1947 in San Francisco, California, had a significant impact on how athletes, especially African American athletes, were perceived in the mainstream, long before he gained notoriety.

Simpson’s journey to success began at the University of Southern California, where he established himself as one of the most exceptional college running backs in history. After completing two years at City College of San Francisco, he went on to enrol at USC. In his first season, he achieved an impressive second place in the Heisman Trophy voting. Simpson’s incredible 64-yard touchdown run during that season remains an iconic moment in the history of college football. During his time at USC in 1968, Simpson achieved the remarkable feat of winning the prestigious Heisman Trophy.

Simpson was an exceptional running back. He possessed impressive physical dimensions, standing at 6-foot-1 and weighing 212 pounds. His speed was truly exceptional; back in 1967, he was a member of a four-man USC relay team that achieved a remarkable feat by setting a world record in the 440-yard event. He possessed remarkable football instincts, particularly when navigating through open spaces.

During the 1969 common draft, the Buffalo Bills, who were part of the American Football League at the time, made Simpson their first overall pick.

Thriving in Buffalo’s NFL spotlight

Simpson’s NFL career got off to a sluggish start, and he seemed like a potential disappointment for the first three seasons. Then in 1972, the Bills brought on Lou Saban as head coach, and under his guidance, Simpson’s talent soared.

Simpson achieved All-Pro status in 1972. In 1973, Simpson had an incredibly memorable season in NFL history, achieving the remarkable feat of being the first player to rush for 2,000 yards in a single season. He ended the season with an impressive 2,003 yards, a number that quickly gained recognition in the world of sports. He received the prestigious title of NFL MVP. It remains one of the most renowned single-season performances by a player in NFL history.

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“That was an incredible achievement,” Bills Hall of Fame guard Joe DeLamielleure said, reflecting on Simpson’s remarkable 1973 season, as featured in the ESPN documentary “O.J.: Made in America.” “It was unprecedented.”

Simpson achieved the remarkable feat of being named first-team All-Pro for five consecutive years. Although his 1975 season may not receive as much recognition as his 1973 season, it was actually statistically superior. With an impressive 2,243 yards from scrimmage and 23 touchdowns, his performance was truly remarkable. During that five-year period, Simpson established himself as one of the most exceptional running backs in the history of football. In 1985, he was honoured with induction into the prestigious Pro Football Hall of Fame. During his induction speech, he expressed gratitude towards his second wife Nicole. As time went on, Simpson’s popularity continued to soar.

Simpson’s popularity went far beyond his success in football

Very few football players have ever achieved the level of fame that Simpson attained during the 1970s. What is the frequency of NFL players appearing on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine?

Simpson was introduced to a larger audience through a Hertz rental car advertising campaign in the 1970s. Simpson’s sprint through the airport, determined to reach the Hertz counter, etched itself into the annals of advertising history as one of the most unforgettable and triumphant campaigns. This iconic moment catapulted Simpson into the realm of stardom.

“Prior to that, approximately 30 percent of the individuals I encountered were familiar with my identity, often being enthusiasts of football.” Now I’d say it’s closer to 90 percent,” Simpson told Rolling Stone in that 1977 cover story.

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The Hertz campaign also gained attention for its racial component. It was a turning point, as Simpson showed a Black spokesperson could be a successful pitchman. The campaign revolutionised the world of advertising.

Despite the conclusion of Simpson’s playing career with the San Francisco 49ers in 1978 and 1979, his fame continued to endure.

Simpson was highly sought after for his endorsement deals and was also able to secure numerous acting opportunities. His acting career started when he was playing for the Bills, and his most memorable role was as Nordberg in “The Naked Gun” comedy movie series. The retired Simpson was incredibly well-known during the 1980s, surpassing the fame of most NFL players of that time. He also was on television as a commentator, including a coveted role on “Monday Night Football.”

Part of Simpson’s widespread popularity was how he endeared himself to the white community, a theme that was explored at length in “OJ: Made in America.” In the documentary, those who knew Simpson claimed he would often say, “I’m not Black, I’m O.J.”

Ironically, the man who showed apathy toward his racial identity would be in the middle of a double murder trial that split America by racial lines.

The nation was fascinated by a trial

O.J. Simpson has died at age 76, according to his family. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)

In June 12, 1994, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman tragically lost their lives outside Nicole’s Brentwood residence.

Throughout the following year and four months, a series of unforgettable moments and individuals emerged, leaving a lasting impact on both memories and popular culture. These included the record-breaking Bronco chase, the rise of the renowned “dream team” of lawyers led by Johnnie Cochran, the infamous bloody gloves, the iconic phrase “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit,” and the sudden fame of individuals like Kato Kaelin, Lance Ito, Marcia Clark, and Christopher Darden. Additionally, this period witnessed a surge in notable trials that captivated audiences as if they were reality television.

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In a significant turn of events, Simpson was found not guilty on Oct. 3, 1995. The outcome of the trial was met with celebration by many members of the Black community, largely due to the misconduct that was exposed within the Los Angeles Police Department. On the other hand, numerous white individuals were deeply upset. The trial brought attention to the deep-seated racial disparities in the United States.

In 1997, Simpson was held responsible for the murders in a civil trial and was instructed to provide $25 million in punitive damages to the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Goldman. It became a mere sidenote to one of the most renowned criminal trials in American history.

Simpson is incarcerated in a Nevada prison

In 2008, Simpson was convicted of robbery and kidnapping, following a 2007 incident at a Las Vegas hotel involving sports memorabilia that Simpson claimed had been stolen from him. The verdict was delivered exactly 13 years after the previous not guilty verdict in the double murder trial.

Simpson served a lengthy sentence in a Nevada prison before being granted his release.

Simpson could never shake off the notoriety surrounding the double murder trial. Even after two decades, the public’s fascination with it remained strong. In 2016, FX captivated audiences with “The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” a widely popular series. That same year, ESPN impressed critics with their five-part documentary, “O.J.: Made in America.”

The passing of Simpson will undoubtedly spark a deeper examination of a legacy that stands out as unparalleled in the annals of American sports.

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