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‘Trial of the Century’ defendant O.J. Simpson dies at 76 of prostate cancer

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The former football player who stood trial 29 years ago for the murder of his ex-wife and was acquitted because a glove did not fit his hand has died of prostate cancer.

O.J. Simpson, 76, was born and raised in San Francisco where he attended Galileo High School and began his career in football. He continued playing at the City College of San Francisco where he won the Heisman Trophy his senior year, as reported by USA Today.

After college, he was a member of the Buffalo Bills and later explored a career in broadcasting and acting.

But the world really took notice of Simpson in 1994 when he became suspect No. 1 in the death of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman.

His family announced his death on social media yesterday.

“Our father, Orenthal James Simpson, succumbed to his battle with cancer,” his family posted. “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.”

America watched with undivided attention as Simpson stood trial in 1995 for the murders and was acquitted on two counts. The jury in a civil trial later found him liable, however, for both murders and he served nine years in prison for a botched armed robbery attempt. Simpson was granted parole in 2017.

Dubbed “the Trial of the Century,” Simpson’s murder trial made household names of his defense attorney Johnnie Cochran and other attorneys in the case. The most infamous piece of evidence was a bloody glove which Simpson could not fit on his hand and Cochran told the jury: “It if doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”

The trial also sparked racial tension across America very soon after the police beating of a Black man, Rodney King, in Los Angeles in March 1991.

Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Simpson was awarded the Heisman Trophy in 1968.

“O.J. Simpson was the first player to reach a rushing mark many thought could not be attained in a 14-game season when he topped 2,000 yards. His on-field contributions will be preserved in the Hall’s archives in Canton, Ohio,” Pro Football Hall of Fame President Jim Porter in a statement Thursday.

Simpson and his first wife, Marguerite, divorced in 1979. He married Nicole Brown in 1985. They had met when she was 17 years old waiting tables and he was still married to his first wife. Brown called police and said Simpson struck her, and he plead no contest to spousal abuse in 1989.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.