O.J. Simpson, Former NFL Star Acquitted of Double Murder, Dies After Cancer Battle at 76

The “Naked Gun” actor was acquitted in the murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman, but found liable for their deaths in a civil suit

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O.J. Simpson, the former college football and NFL sensation, comedic actor and pitch man who tumbled into infamy after being accused – but ultimately acquitted – of double murder, died on Wednesday after a battle with cancer. He was 76.

Simpson’s family posted the news on Thursday morning to his official X account, writing, “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.”

Back in February, it was revealed that Simpson was undergoing treatment for prostate cancer, but he posted a video to X debunking claims that he was in hospice care.

In football, Simpson was an unstoppable force and among the sport’s all-time most fearsome ball-carriers, particularly while playing at USC, where he won the Heisman Trophy. He was successful with the Buffalo Bills for nine seasons, and retired with the San Francisco 49ers in 1979.

Given the popularity and obvious charm of “The Juice,” a pivot to broadcasting, advertising and acting was inevitable.

Simpson starred in three “Naked Gun” movies with Leslie Nielsen, playing the comically injury-prone Detective Nordberg in the late-80s franchise after years of dabbling in independent films and made-for-TV movies. But he first hit paydirt a decade earlier in a now-iconic ad for the car rental agency Hertz, in which the most famous runner in the world goes streaking through the airport to make his connection.

But Simpson’s public persona fell into shadow in 1994 when he was accused of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman in a grisly knife attack. The news rocked the world, from the slow-speed white Ford Bronco chase through Los Angeles to the ensuing trial.

One of the most significant moments in American cultural history was playing out on live television, simultaneously gripping the entire country while further exposing the deep racial fissures from the Los Angeles riots – sparked off by the beating of Rodney King – just two years before.

The courtroom drama that ensued was, somehow, more than the sum of its parts (and immortalized in the Emmy-gobbling 2016 limited series “The People v. O. J. Simpson” starring Cuba Gooding Jr. and John Travolta). Simpson was acquitted in a verdict that divided Americans sharply along racial lines; three years later, Simpson was found liable for Brown and Goldman’s deaths in a civil suit with a $33.5 million payoff.

In 2007, a federal judge issued a restraining order that prevented Simpson from receiving compensation from a book or TV deal tied to the murders. The book, titled “If I Did It,” was a “hypothetical” description of the murders from Simpson’s point of view. Rights to the book were awarded to the Goldman family, and it was published with the word “If” reduced to small print on the cover.

His legal problems didn’t end there. After an altercation with a memorabilia dealer at a Las Vegas hotel, Simpson was sentenced in 2007 to a total of 33 years in prison on federal kidnapping and robbery charges. He was released on parole in 2017.

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