Orenthal James "O. J." Simpson (born July 9, 1947), nicknamed "The Juice", is a retired American football player, football broadcaster, spokesman, actor, and convicted felon. He originally attained fame in sports as a running back at the collegiate and professional levels and was the first NFL player to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season, a mark he set during the 1973 season. While five other players have passed the 2,000 rush yard mark he stands alone as the only player to ever rush for more than 2,000 yards in a 14-game season (the NFL changed to a 16-game season in 1978). He also holds the record for the single season yards-per-game average which stands at 143.1 ypg. Simpson was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.
In 1995, Simpson was acquitted of the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman after a lengthy, highly publicized criminal trial - the People v. Simpson. A 1997 judgment against Simpson for their wrongful deaths was awarded in civil court by a jury, but to date he has paid little of the $33.5 million judgment. He gained further notoriety related to the murders in late 2006 when he wrote a book entitled If I Did It. The book, which purports to be a first-person fictional account of the murder had he actually committed it, was withdrawn by the publisher just before its release. The book was later released by the Goldman family.
In September 2007, Simpson was arrested in Las Vegas, Nevada and charged with numerous felonies, including armed robbery and kidnapping. A jury found Simpson guilty of all charges on October 3, 2008; and he was sentenced on December 5 to at least nine years in prison. He is currently serving his sentence at the Lovelock Correctional Center in Lovelock, Nevada.
Simpson was born in San Francisco, California, the son of Eunice (née Durden; October 23, 1921 – San Francisco, California, November 9, 2001), a hospital administrator, and Jimmy Lee Simpson (Arkansas, January 29, 1920 – San Francisco, California, June 9, 1986), a chef and bank custodian. Simpson's maternal grandparents were from Louisiana. His aunt gave him the name Orenthal, which supposedly was the name of a French actor she liked. His parents were separated in 1952. Simpson has one brother, Melvin Leon "Truman" Simpson, and one living sister, Shirley Simpson-Baker, and one deceased sister, Carmelita Simpson-Durio. As a child, Simpson developed rickets and wore braces on his legs until the age of five.
At Galileo High School in San Francisco, Simpson played for the school football team, the Galileo Lions. From 1965 to 1966, Simpson was a student at City College of San Francisco, a member of the California Community College system. He played both offense (running back) and defense (defensive back) and was named to the Junior College All-American team as a running back.
Simpson earned an athletic scholarship to the University of Southern California where he played running back in 1967 and 1968. Simpson led the nation in rushing in 1967 when he ran for 1,451 yards and scored 11 touchdowns. He also led the nation in rushing the next year with 355 carries for 1,709 yards.
In 1967, he starred in the 1967 USC vs. UCLA football game and was a Heisman Trophy candidate as a junior, but he did not win the award. His 64 yard touchdown run in the 4th quarter tied the game, with the PAT the margin of victory. This was the biggest play in what is regarded as one of the greatest football games of the 20th century.
Another dramatic touchdown in the same game is the subject of the Arnold Friberg oil painting, O.J. Simpson Breaks for Daylight. Simpson also won the Walter Camp Award in 1967 and was a two-time consensus All-American. He ran in the USC sprint relay quartet that broke the world record at the NCAA track championships in Provo, Utah in June 1967.
In 1968, he rushed for 1,709 yards and 22 touchdowns, earning the Heisman Trophy, the Maxwell Award, and the Walter Camp Award that year. He still holds the record for the Heisman's largest margin of victory, defeating the runner-up by 1,750 points. In the 1969 Rose Bowl where #2 USC faced #1 Ohio State, Simpson ran for 171 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown run in a 16-27 loss to top ranked Ohio State.
The October 27, 1968 regular-season NFL game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Pittsburgh Steelers was dubbed the "O.J. Bowl", as it was thought the loser would be awarded the first pick in the 1969 NFL Draft and thereby secure Simpson for the following season. The Steelers won 6–3 (on 2 field goals by Booth Lusteg), however, neither team captured the first draft pick.
Simpson was drafted by the AFL's Buffalo Bills, who got first pick in the 1969 draft after finishing 1–12–1 in 1968. Early in his NFL career, Simpson struggled on poor Buffalo teams, averaging only 622 yards per season for his first three.
He first rushed for more than 1,000 yards in 1972, gaining a total of 1,251. In 1973, Simpson rushed for a record 2,003 yards, becoming the first player ever to pass the 2,000-yard mark, and scored 12 touchdowns. Simpson gained more than 1,000 rushing yards for each of his next three seasons. From 1972 to 1976, Simpson averaged 1,540 rushing yards per (14 game) season, 5.1 yards per carry, and he won the NFL rushing title four times. Simpson had the best game of his career during the Thanksgiving game against the Detroit Lions on November 25, 1976. When he rushed for a then record 273 yards on 29 attempts and scoring two touchdowns.
Simpson's 1977 season in Buffalo was cut short by injury. Before the 1978 season, the Bills traded Simpson to the San Francisco 49ers for a second round draft pick, where he played two unremarkable seasons.
Simpson gained 11,236 rushing yards, placing him 2nd on the NFL's all-time rushing list; he now stands at 17th. He was named NFL Player of the Year in 1973, and played in six Pro Bowls. He was the only player in NFL history to rush for over 2,000 yards in a 14 game season and he's the only player to rush for over 200 yards in six different games in his career. Simpson was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985, his first year of eligibility.
Simpson acquired the nickname "Juice" as a play on "O. J.", an informal abbreviation for "Orange Juice". "Juice" is also a colloquial synonym for electricity or electrical power, and hence a metaphor for any powerful entity; the Bills' offensive line at Simpson's peak was nicknamed "The Electric Company."
Even before his retirement from football and in the NFL, Simpson embarked on a successful film career with parts in films such as the television mini-series Roots, and the dramatic motion pictures The Cassandra Crossing, Capricorn One, The Klansman, The Towering Inferno, and the comedic Back to the Beach and The Naked Gun trilogy. In 1979, he started his own film production company, Orenthal Productions, which dealt mostly in made-for-TV fare such as the family-oriented Goldie and the Boxer films with Melissa Michaelsen and Cocaine and Blue Eyes, the pilot for a proposed detective series on NBC.
Simpson's amiable persona and natural charisma landed him numerous endorsement deals. He was a spokesman for the Hertz rental car company. He would be depicted running through airports, as if to suggest he was back on the football field. Simpson was also a longtime spokesman for Pioneer Chicken and owned two franchises, one of which was destroyed during the 1992 Los Angeles riots; as well as HoneyBaked Ham, the pX Corporation, and Calistoga Water Company's line of Napa Naturals soft drinks. He also appeared in comic book ads for Dingo cowboy boots.
On June 24, 1967, Simpson married Marguerite L. Whitley. Together they had three children: Arnelle L. Simpson (born December 4, 1968), Jason L. Simpson (born April 21, 1970) and Aaren Lashone Simpson (born September 24, 1977). In 1979, Aaren drowned in the family's swimming pool a month before her second birthday. That same year Simpson and Whitley divorced.
On February 2, 1985, Simpson married Nicole Brown. They had two children, Sydney Brooke Simpson (born October 17, 1985) and Justin Ryan Simpson (born August 6, 1988), and were divorced in 1992.
Nicole Brown and her friend Ronald Goldman were murdered on June 12, 1994. Simpson was charged with their deaths and subsequently acquitted of all criminal charges in a controversial criminal trial. In the unanimous jury findings of a civil court case in February 1997, Simpson was found liable for the wrongful death of Ronald Goldman and battery of Nicole Brown.
In 1989, Simpson pleaded no contest to a domestic violence charge and was separated from Nicole Brown, to whom he was paying child support. On June 12, 1994 Brown and her friend Ronald Goldman were found dead outside Brown's condominium. Simpson was charged with their murders. After failing to turn himself in, he became the object of a low-speed pursuit in a white Ford Bronco SUV. The pursuit, arrest, and trial were among the most widely publicized in American history. The trial, often characterized as "the trial of the century," culminated on October 3, 1995 in a jury verdict of not guilty for the two murders. The verdict was seen live on TV by more than half of the U.S. population, making it one of the most watched events in American TV history. Immediate reaction to the verdict was notable for its division along racial lines: polls showed that most African-Americans felt that justice had been served by the "not guilty" verdict, while most white Americans did not. O. J. Simpson's defense counsel included Johnnie Cochran and F. Lee Bailey.
On February 5, 1997 a civil jury in Santa Monica, California unanimously found Simpson liable for the wrongful death of and battery against Goldman, and battery against Brown. Daniel Petrocelli represented plaintiff Fred Goldman, Ronald Goldman's father. Simpson was ordered to pay $33,500,000 in damages. However, California law protects pensions from being used to satisfy judgments, so Simpson was able to continue much of his lifestyle based on his NFL pension. In February 1999, an auction of Simpson's Heisman Trophy and other belongings netted almost $500,000. The money went to the Goldman family.
A 2000 Rolling Stone article reported that Simpson still made a significant income by signing autographs. He subsequently moved from California to Miami, Florida. In Florida, a person's residence cannot be seized to collect a debt under most circumstances. The Goldman family also tried to collect Simpson's NFL pension of $25,000 a month but failed to collect any money.
Simpson's civil and criminal trials were not the only important legal cases that were spawned by the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.
On September 5, 2006, Goldman's father took Simpson back to court to obtain control over his "right to publicity" for purposes of satisfying the judgment in the civil court case. On January 4, 2007, a Federal judge issued a restraining order prohibiting Simpson from spending any advance he may have received on a canceled TV and book deal. The matter was dismissed before trial for lack of jurisdiction. On January 19, 2007, a California state judge issued an additional restraining order, ordering Simpson to restrict his spending to "ordinary and necessary living expenses".
On March 13, 2007, a judge prevented Simpson from receiving any further compensation from a canceled book deal and TV interview. He ordered the bundled book rights to be auctioned. In August 2007, a Florida bankruptcy court awarded the rights to the book to the Goldman family to partially satisfy an unpaid civil judgment. The book was renamed If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer,with the word "If" reduced in size to make it appear that the title was "I Did It: Confessions of the Killer", and comments were added to the original manuscript by the Goldman family, author Pablo Fenjves, and prominent investigative journalist Dominick Dunne. The author was listed as the Goldman family.
Mike Gilbert, a memorabilia dealer and former agent and friend of Simpson, wrote a book entitled How I Helped O.J. Get Away with Murder: The Shocking Inside Story of Violence, Loyalty, Regret and Remorse. He states that Simpson had smoked marijuana, took a sleeping pill and was drinking beer when he allegedly confided at his Brentwood home weeks after his trial what happened the night of June 12, 1994. According to Gilbert, Simpson said, "If she hadn't opened that door with a knife in her hand...she'd still be alive." Gilbert claimed Simpson had confessed. However, Simpson's current lawyer, Yale Galanter, said none of Gilbert's claims are true and that Gilbert is "a delusional drug addict who needs money. He has fallen on very hard times. He is in trouble with the Internal Revenue Service."
In September 2007, a group of men led by Simpson entered a room at the Palace Station hotel-casino and took sports memorabilia at gunpoint, which resulted in Simpson being questioned by police. Simpson admitted to taking the items, which he said had been stolen from him, but denied breaking into the hotel room; he also denied that he or anyone else carried a gun. He was released after questioning.
Two days later, however, Simpson was arrested and initially held without bail. Along with three other men, Simpson was charged with multiple felony counts, including criminal conspiracy, kidnapping, assault, robbery, and using a deadly weapon. Bail was set at $125,000, with stipulations that Simpson have no contact with the co-defendants and that he surrender his passport. Simpson did not enter a plea.
By the end of October 2007, all three of Simpson's co-defendants had plea bargained with the prosecution in the Clark County, Nevada court case. Walter Alexander and Charles H. Cashmore accepted plea agreements in exchange for reduced charges and his testimony against Simpson and three other co-defendants, including testifying that guns were used in the robbery. Co-defendant Michael McClinton told a Las Vegas judge that he too would plead guilty to reduced charges and testify against Simpson that guns were used in the robbery. After the hearings, the judge ordered that Simpson be tried for the heist.
Simpson's preliminary hearing, to decide whether he would be tried for the charges, occurred on November 8, 2007. He was held over for trial on all 12 counts. Simpson pleaded not guilty on November 29. Court officers and attorneys announced on May 22, 2008, that long questionnaires with at least 115 queries would be given to a jury pool of 400 or more. Trial was reset from April to September 8, 2008.
In January 2008, Simpson was taken into custody in Florida and flown to Las Vegas where he was jailed for allegedly violating the terms of his bail by attempting to contact Clarence "C.J." Stewart, a co-defendant in the trial. District Attorney David Roger of Clark County, provided District Court Judge Jackie Glass with data that Simpson had violated terms of bail. The hearing on this bail issue was on January 16, 2008. Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass raised Simpson's bail to US$250,000 and ordered that he remain in jail until 15 percent of the bail, in cash, was paid. Simpson posted bond that evening and returned to Miami the next day.
Simpson and his co-defendant were found guilty of all charges on October 3, 2008.
On October 10, 2008, O. J. Simpson's counsels moved for new trial (trial de novo) on grounds of judicial errors (two African-American jurors were dismissed) and insufficient evidence. Galanter announced he would appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court if Judge Glass denies the motion. The attorney for Simpson's co-defendant, C.J. Stewart, petitioned for a new trial, alleging Stewart should have been tried separately, and cited perceived misconduct by the jury foreman, Paul Connelly.
Simpson faced a possible life sentence with parole on the kidnapping charge, and mandatory prison time for robbery. On December 5, Simpson was sentenced to a total of 33 years in prison with the possibility of parole in about 9 years. Simpson's lawyers plan to appeal so as to gain eligibility for a mitigated sentence and thus earlier parole. On September 4, 2009, the Nevada Supreme Court denied a request for bail during Simpson's appeal. He is now serving his sentence as as Nevada Department of Corrections Inmate #1027820 at the Lovelock Correctional Center.
In 2000, Simpson was charged with battery and auto burglary after it was alleged that he pulled the glasses off another motorist during a traffic dispute. He was put on trial and acquitted on both charges in 2001.
In March 2004, satellite television network DirecTV, Inc. accused Simpson in a Miami federal court of using illegal electronic devices to pirate its broadcast signals. The company later won a US$25,000 judgement, and Simpson was ordered to pay US$33,678 in attorney's fees and costs.
|1968||Ironside||Onlooker - uncredited||TV Episode - "Price Tag Death"|
|1969||Medical Center||Bru Wiley||TV Episode "The Last 10 Yards"|
|1972||Cade's County||Jeff Hughes||TV Episode "Blackout"|
|Here's Lucy||Himself||(TV series) episode "The Big Game"|
|O. J. Simpson: Juice on the Loose||Himself||TV|
|The Towering Inferno||Jernigan|
|1976||The Cassandra Crossing||Haley|
|1977||A Killing Affair||Woodrow York||TV|
|1978||Capricorn One||Cmdr. John Walker|
|Goldie and the Boxer||Joe Gallagher||TV (executive producer)|
|1980||Detour to Terror||Lee Hayes||TV (executive producer)|
|1981||Goldie and the Boxer Go to Hollywood||Joe Gallagher||TV (executive producer)|
|1983||Cocaine and Blue Eyes||Michael Brennen||TV (executive producer)|
|1984||Hambone and Hillie||Tucker|
|1985–1991||1st & Ten||T.D. Parker||Five episodes|
|1987||Back to the Beach||Man at Airport||Uncredited|
|1988||The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!||Detective Nordberg|
|1989||In the Heat of the Night||Councilman Lawson Stiles||TV episode "Walkout"|
|1991||The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear||Detective Nordberg|
|1993||CIA Code Name: Alexa||Nick Murphy|
|No Place to Hide||Allie Wheeler|
|1994||Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult||Detective Nordberg|
|2006||Juiced with O. J. Simpson||Himself||TV pay-per-view|
|Awards and achievements|
|1st Overall Pick in NFL Draft
|AP NFL Most Valuable Player
|Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year
|Hickok Belt Winner