O.J. Simpson | Biography, Trial, & Facts (2024)

American football player

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Also known as: Orenthal James Simpson

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In full:
Orenthal James Simpson
Born:
July 9, 1947, San Francisco, California, U.S.
Awards And Honors:
All-America team
Pro Football Hall of Fame (1985)
Heisman Trophy (1968)

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Top Questions

What is O.J. Simpson famous for?

O.J. Simpson became famous as an American football player during the 1960s. At theUniversity of Southern California, he won the Heisman Trophy as the best collegiate player in 1968. He set multiple records as a running back for the Buffalo Bills in the NFL during the 1970s. Simpson then became a became an actor andsportscommentator. Simpson’s trial in 1995 on charges that he murdered his ex-wife and her friend was nationally televised, and it became the focus of unprecedented public scrutiny. He was acquitted by a jury.

What was O.J. Simpson charged with in 1994?

On June 12, 1994, O.J. Simpson's ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman were stabbed to death outside her home in Los Angeles. Simpson was arrested and charged with the two murders on June 17, 1994. He pleaded not guilty during his trial, and on October 3, 1995, a jury acquitted him. In a 1997 civil trial decision, Simpson was found liable for the deaths of his ex-wife and Goldman, and he was ordered to pay $33.5 million in damages to their families.

Why was O.J Simpson called “Juice”?

O.J. Simpson was called “Juice” because of his energetic runs as a football player and because his initials could stand for orange juice.

What is O.J. Simpson’s full name?

O.J. Simpson’s full name is Orenthal James Simpson.

What was O.J. Simpson convicted of in 2008?

O.J. Simpson was arrested and charged with several crimes connected to an incident in 2007 in a Las Vegas hotel room, including armed robbery and kidnapping. A jury found him guilty of all charges in 2008, and he was sentenced to a minimum of nine years in prison. He was grantedparolein 2017.

O.J. Simpson (born July 9, 1947, San Francisco, California, U.S.—died April 10, 2024, Las Vegas, Nevada) was an American collegiate and professional football player who was a premier running back, known for his speed and elusiveness. His success on the field led to a career in film and television. In 1994, however, Simpson was charged with murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. In what became one of the most celebrated criminal trials in American history, Simpson was acquitted in 1995, though his career and reputation never recovered.

Education and Heisman win

Simpson played football at Galileo High School in San Francisco, first as a tackle and then as a fullback. He attended San Francisco City College (1965–66) to achieve a scholastic record that allowed him to play at the University of Southern California (USC), where he set team records for yards gained by rushing: 1967, 1,415 yards; 1968, 1,709 yards. He was named All-American (1967–68), played in two Rose Bowl games, and won the Heisman Trophy as the best collegiate player of the season (1968). At USC he was also a member of a world-record-setting 440-yard relay team.

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NFL career

Simpson, who was often called “Juice” because of his energetic runs and because his initials could stand for “orange juice,” was the number one draft choice of the American Football League (AFL) Buffalo Bills in 1969. The following year the AFL merged with the National Football League (NFL). The Bills were members of the American Football Conference (AFC) of the NFL when Simpson set a single-season record for yards gained rushing (2,003) in 1973.

The Bills were never a contending team during his stay, but Simpson was a great box-office draw. Injuries to his knees prompted the Bills to trade him in 1978 to the San Francisco 49ers, but he retired after the 1979 season. His 1975 record of most touchdowns scored in a season (23) stood until 1983, and his 1973 season rushing record for most yards gained lasted until 1984, when it was broken by Eric Dickerson. Simpson led the AFC in rushing yardage four times (1972–73, 1975–76). His career total yards gained (11,236) was second in the all-time rankings at the time of his retirement. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.

Film and TV work

Simpson’s popularity extended beyond the NFL. He enjoyed success as a spokesperson, and he occasionally acted, appearing in such films as The Towering Inferno (1974) and several Naked Gun comedies (1988, 1991, and 1994). In addition, Simpson landed guest roles on TV shows, including In the Heat of the Night. After retiring from the NFL, he also worked as a sports commentator.

Trial and acquittal

On June 12, 1994, his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman were brutally stabbed to death outside her home in Los Angeles. Simpson became the prime suspect, and after being notified of impending charges on June 17, he became involved in a low-speed pursuit by police, as he hid in the back of a Ford Bronco driven by his friend A.C. Cowlings. The attempted “escape” was televised live nationally and was seen by an estimated 95 million viewers. It ended at Simpson’s home, where he was arrested and charged with the two murders. He pleaded not guilty and subsequently hired a team of prominent lawyers—who were led by Johnnie Cochran—to handle his defense.

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Simpson’s trial began on January 24, 1995, and it received unprecedented media scrutiny. The proceedings were nationally televised, and millions watched throughout the day. Prosecutors emphasized the domestic violence that had occurred prior to and after the Simpsons’ 1992 divorce. The Simpson defense was based largely on the grounds that evidence had been mishandled or planted and that members of the Los Angeles police department were racist. One of the prosecution’s key pieces of evidence was a bloody glove allegedly found at Simpson’s home. The defense argued that the glove seemed too small for Simpson’s hand, leading Cochran to say, “If the glove don’t fit, you must acquit.”

After more than eight months of testimony, the case went to the jury on October 2, 1995. The following day, Simpson was acquitted of the murder charges. After the verdict, public opinion polls broke down along racial lines. Whites were largely dismayed by the jury’s decision, whereas the majority of African Americans supported it.

In a separate civil trial decision in 1997, Simpson was found liable for the deaths of his ex-wife and Goldman and was ordered to pay $33.5 million in damages to the families. Simpson later collaborated (with Pablo F. Fenjves) on If I Did It, in which he hypothesized about how he would have committed the murders. Public outrage prevented its initial publication in 2006, but a bankruptcy court subsequently awarded the book’s rights to the Goldman family, who released the work in 2007.

Las Vegas robbery

Later in 2007 Simpson was arrested after he and several other men entered a Las Vegas hotel room and took memorabilia items that Simpson claimed had been stolen from him. The incident resulted in Simpson being charged with a number of crimes, including armed robbery and kidnapping. On October 3, 2008, a jury found him guilty of all charges. He was later sentenced to a minimum of nine years in prison, with a possible maximum sentence of 33 years. Simpson was granted parole in 2017.

In 2023 it was publicly revealed that Simpson had been diagnosed with cancer. He died the following year.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia BritannicaThis article was most recently revised and updated by Amy Tikkanen.

O.J. Simpson | Biography, Trial, & Facts (2024)
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