O.J. Simpson Dead At 76–American Dream Turned Into Nightmare For Popular Football Star.

Photo: US National Archives. Simpson found success in multiple fields, but in the end was imprisoned and ostracized.
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O.J. Simpson was a great football star who moved on to a successful career in movies and TV commercials and as a sports commentator, but then it all fell apart when he was accused of the double murder of his wife Nicole, mother of two of his children, and a friend of hers, Ron Goldman.

After convincing a jury of his innocence in a sensational double murder case involving a group of lawyers known as the ‘dream team’, that was one of the first criminal cases to be televised worldwide, years later he was convicted in Las Vegas of armed robbery and conspiracy to kidnap and sent to prison for 7 years.

He said he was trying to retrieve some of his sports memorabilia that had been stolen from him, but this time the jury went against him.

The famous murder trial started in 1995 and contained the blockbuster ingredients of money, murder, fame and sex.

The trial gripped the US, and much of the rest of the world, for an entire year, and dramas and documentaries inspired by the case continue to enthral audiences.

The jury’s decision that he was not guilty remains a subject of heated debate in popular culture to this day.

Before 1994, Simpson was regarded with affection by the public, well known as a professional athlete actor, and million-dollar spokesman for several US companies.

Things appeared to always work out for “the Juice”. He had gone from a poor San Francisco neighbourhood, where he grew up, to a home in the wealthy boulevards of west Los Angeles via a glittering American football career.

It all changed when he became the main suspect in his ex-wife’s murder. Millions of Americans watched as the police chased the white Bronco car of his friend Al Cowlings for 90 minutes live on TV. He finally gave himself up outside his Los Angeles home.

Throughout his career OJ had worked hard to rise above race and become an all-American hero.

In 1969, in an interview with the New York Times, he stated that his biggest accomplishment was that “people looked at me like a man, not a black man”.

But years later, in the Los Angeles courtroom, his race came to the forefront.

Public opinion on his guilt divided along racial lines, and revealed a large chasm between black and white Americans’ perception of the police.

His lawyer, Johnnie Cochran, argued to the mostly black jury that police had planted evidence in an attempt to frame Simpson because he was a black superstar. Critics accused him of playing the “race card”.

Simpson’s attorneys played recordings of Los Angles police detective Mark Furhman, who had found the bloodied glove, using racial slurs, and called witnesses who testified he had made racist comments.

The verdict proved similarly divisive once the jury voted to acquit Simpson after just hours of deliberation. There was widespread outrage among white Americans after Simpson walked free, but the majority of black Americans supported it.

The trial led many to ask the question: Who was the real OJ Simpson?

There was no denying that he had been very much loved by the public who viewed him as gentle, generous, hard-working and charismatic. He and Nicole Brown, whom he married in 1985, looked like the perfect, handsome couple.

But the court case threw up a darker side, with the prosecution’s emphasis on Simpson’s violent relationship with his ex-wife to which the police had been called a number of times.

Although found not guilty in the criminal trial, Simpson was found responsible for the deaths of two people in a later civil trial, but refused to pay compensation, and chose to live off his sizeable retirement accounts and pensions for the rest of his life.

After he was released from prison for the Las Vegas robbery, he lived in Las Vegas until his death from cancer this week.

Sources: BBC, news agencies.
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