OJ Simpson dies from cancer; family asks for privacy and grace

O.J. Simpson in raises his hand during his trial for the June 1994 murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman. He was acquitted.
O.J. Simpson in raises his hand during his trial for the June 1994 murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman. He was acquitted. | YouTube/Investigation Discovery

Disgraced American football legend and retired actor O.J. Simpson died Wednesday from cancer, his family has announced. He was 76.

"On April 10th, our father, Orenthal James Simpson, succumbed to his battle with cancer. He was surrounded by his children and grandchildren," the Simpson family said in a statement on X Thursday. "During this time of transition, his family asks that you please respect their wishes for privacy and grace."

The football standout won the Heisman Trophy, college football's most prestigious award, in 1968. The Buffalo Bills drafted him first overall into the AFL in 1969 before the team joined the NFL in 1970. He played 11 seasons, most of which were with the Bills. He earned an MVP Award in 1973 after he became the first player to rush for 2,000 yards in a season. 

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Simpson's legacy as a football player and actor took a dark turn in June 1994 when his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman were found dead outside her condo in Brentwood, California.

Simpson was investigated as a person of interest in the case. After he was charged with the murders, Simpson didn't turn himself in. Instead, he led police on a low-speed chase throughout Los Angeles on June 17, 1994, as a passenger in a white Ford Bronco driven by former NFL player Al Cowlings. 

He was tried and found not guilty of the murders in 1995, although a civil trial jury found Simpson liable for the deaths in 1997 and ordered him to pay $33.5 million to their family members.

About 10 years later, a jury convicted Simpson of armed robbery and other felonies after he led five men into a confrontation with two sports memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas hotel room. Two of the men with Simpson had guns.

He served nine years in the Lovelock Correctional Center in Nevada before he was released on parole in October 2017.

Before his release, Simpson's former manager Norman Pardo told The Enquirer that his client found God in prison and had been ministering to inmates. He reportedly even converted his white supremacist cellmate to Christianity.

"O.J. is very religious now, and he's been counseling other inmates with Bible studies for months," Pardo said in the report. "When I talk to him on the phone, all he wants to discuss is religion. He's obsessed!"

One unnamed source told The Enquirer at the time, however, that Simpson was on a mission to dupe Christians.

"O.J. will tell you that he wants to bring people together, but that's B.S. as far as I'm concerned," said the source. "There's a lot of people sending bucket-loads of money to these TV preachers, and O.J.'s just looking to rake in millions from poor, unsuspecting Christians."

"It's a dangerous idea to think of Simpson as a self-styled prophet who can reach people all over the world."

Simpson married his first wife, Marguerite Whitley, on June 24, 1967, and had two sons, Jason and Aaren, with her, according to The Associated Press. One of those boys, Aaren, drowned as a toddler in a swimming pool accident in 1979. He and Whitley divorced that same year.

Simpson and Brown were married in 1985 and divorced in 1992. They had two children, Justin and Sydney.

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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