O.J. Simpson Dies at 76 After Cancer Battle

Simpson's family announced the news on X.

O.J. Simpson Dies at 76 After Cancer Battle
OJ Simpson Trial Continues In Las Vegas

American football running back O.J. Simpson, 76, died on Wednesday surrounded by his children and grandchildren after losing his battle with cancer.

Simpson’s family announced the news on X. “During this time of transition, his family asks that you please respect their wishes for privacy and grace,” the family said Thursday morning.

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Simpson’s health had been in question since he announced his cancer diagnoses in a video posted on X in 2023. “It looks like I beat it,” the former football star said, after sharing that he underwent chemotherapy. In January, Simpson shared a separate video where he said he was doing well. “I’ve been dealing with issues but I am healthy now and I am ready to go,” Simspon said

He dispelled rumors that he was in hospice on Feb. 9 and reiterated that “all is well.” It is not clear what cancer he had. More than two months later, he passed. It is not clear what cancer he had.

Sports history

Simpson, also known as the “Juice,” rose to fame for his work on the football field, breaking the rushing record during his time at the University of Southern California and earning the Heisman Trophy in 1968. He became a household phenomenon at the start of his career with the Buffalo Bills, who he was with for nine seasons, and during which he earned the Most Valuable Player award in 1973. He also broke a record for becoming the first player to rush 2,000 yards in a season. Simpson spent the last two seasons of his career with the San Francisco 49ers before retiring as an active player. 

Simpson was also well-known for his work as an actor, sports commentator, and even as the face of rental car company Hertz.  

Death of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman

But despite great sports triumphs, Simpson is perhaps better known for being accused and later acquitted of killing his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. Both Nicole and Goldman were stabbed to death in front of the Simpson’s Los Angeles home on June 12, 1994. The case captivated Americans from the start not just because of the high-profile celebrities involved—with some, such as Kris Jenner, who was friends with Nicole, becoming even bigger names today—but also because of the infamous white Ford Bronco police chase down the Los Angeles’ 405 freeway that led to Simpson’s arrest, and subsequent televised 16-month trial. 

In the background of the trial dubbed the “Trial of the Century,” were high racial tensions between police and Black Americans. The L.A. riots, which occurred after a jury acquitted four Los Angeles Police Department officers for beating Rodney King, in 1992 had left the community fraught and was certainly on the minds of jury members selected to hear the case. Another pivotal moment centered on the black glove found at the crime scene. “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit,” said defense attorney Johnnie Cochran after it was clear Simpson’s hand was too large for the glove.

The day of the verdict, 57% of the U.S. watched. The case created “early demand for the current 24-hours news cycle” that is common today, and rise of reality television, TIME previously reported

“I don’t think most of America believes I did it,” Simpson told the New York Times in his first post-trial interview. “I’ve gotten thousands of letters and telegrams from people supporting me.” Simpson was later found liable for two wrongful-death civil suits filed by the family of the two victims. Simpson was ordered to pay $33.5 million to their families. He maintained his innocence throughout his life.

In September 2007, Simpson and five other men broke into a Las Vegas hotel room and took game balls, plaques, and other objects that Simpson alleged were his. Simpson was later convicted of armed robbery and kidnapping two sports memorabilia dealers. He received a 33-year prison sentence but was released early on parole 10 years later.

Simpson told the parole board in 2017: “I’ve basically spent a conflict-free life, you know.”