Orenthal James Simpson (born July 9, 1947 in San Francisco, California) is a former American football player and actor.
Growing up in San Francisco, he led a troubled early life, but managed to turn his life around, and went to the City College of San Francisco. Transferring to the University of Southern California, he participated in football and track and field, earning a Heisman Trophy in 1968. He soon went professional, playing for the Buffalo Bills from 1969 to 1977, and the San Francisco 49ers from 1978 to 1979. Over the course of his career, he set several records, becoming the first NFL player to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season in 1973, and the only player to ever rush for over 2,000 yards when the NFL still used its 14-game regular season.
Following his retirement in 1979, he embarked on a somewhat-successful acting career, even founding his own television production company. He also worked as a commentator for Monday Night Football and The NFL on NBC, as well as endorsing many brands and products.
Of course, you probably don't know him for that.
In 1994, his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ronald Goldman were found stabbed to death in Brentwood. Simpson was named a person of interest, but he refused to turn himself in, instead leading police on a bizarre and infamous low-speed pursuit in a white Ford Bronco owned by his friend, Al Cowlings, before turning himself in after arriving at his Brentwood residence.
What followed would be called the "Trial of the Century". In the lengthy, high-profile trial that followed, Simpson was controversially acquitted on two counts of murder. The verdict wound up splitting public opinion, and would go on to become an infamous episode in American history. In spite of the outcome of the trial (or perhaps even because of it), Simpson's public image was irrevocably damaged, and afterwards he was basically a pariah without much left in the way of friends, influence, or job opportunities.
In the wake of the trial, the Brown and Goldman families filed a civil lawsuit against Simpson, which found him responsible for both deaths, and forced him to cough up $33.5 million, plus an additional $12.6 million to him and Nicole's children, Sydney and Justin. The outcome of the lawsuit cleaned out what Simpson had left of his fortune after the trial, and he ended up bankrupt and more-or-less destitute.
From that point forward, Simpson kept a relatively low profile. In 2007, he ended up back in the spotlight after being arrested for armed robbery and kidnapping in Las Vegas. Convicted in 2008, he was sentenced to 33 years in prison. He would go on to serve the minimum amount of nine years, before being released on parole on October 1, 2017.
Notable acting roles:
- The Klansman (1974)
- The Towering Inferno (1974)
- Roots (1977)
- Capricorn One (1978)
- Back to the Beach (1987)
- The Naked Gun Trilogy
- The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988)
- The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear (1991)
- Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult (1994)