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In this June 21, 1995 file photo, O.J. Simpson holds up his hands before the jury after putting on a new pair of gloves similar to the infamous bloody gloves during his double-murder trial in Los Angeles. During Simpson’s trial, a prosecutor famously asks him to put on a pair of gloves allegedly worn by the killer. The gloves appeared to be too tight, reinforcing the immortal words of defense attorney Johnnie Cochran: “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” (AP Photo/Vince Bucci, Pool, File)
In this June 21, 1995 file photo, O.J. Simpson holds up his hands before the jury after putting on a new pair of gloves similar to the infamous bloody gloves during his double-murder trial in Los Angeles. During Simpson’s trial, a prosecutor famously asks him to put on a pair of gloves allegedly worn by the killer. The gloves appeared to be too tight, reinforcing the immortal words of defense attorney Johnnie Cochran: “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” (AP Photo/Vince Bucci, Pool, File)
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By KEN RITTER

LAS VEGAS — O.J. Simpson, the decorated football superstar and Hollywood actor who was acquitted of charges he killed his former wife and her friend but was found liable in a separate civil trial, has died. He was 76.

The family announced on Simpson’s official X account that he died Wednesday of prostate cancer. Simpson’s attorney confirmed to TMZ on Thursday that he died in Las Vegas.

Simpson earned fame, fortune and adulation through football and show business, but his legacy was forever changed by the June 1994 knife slayings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman in Los Angeles.

  • FILE – O.J. Simpson stands as he listens to Municipal...

    FILE – O.J. Simpson stands as he listens to Municipal Judge Kathleen Kennedy-Powell as she reads her decision to hold him over for trial on July 8, 1994, in connection with the June 12 slayings of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. Simpson, the decorated football superstar and Hollywood actor who was acquitted of charges he killed his former wife and her friend but later found liable in a separate civil trial, has died. He was 76.  (AP Photo/Eric Draper, Pool, File)

  • FILE – In this June 15, 1995 file photo, O.J....

    FILE – In this June 15, 1995 file photo, O.J. Simpson, left, grimaces as he tries on one of the leather gloves prosecutors say he wore the night his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman were murdered in a Los Angeles courtroom. Simpson, the decorated football superstar and Hollywood actor who was acquitted of charges he killed his former wife and her friend but later found liable in a separate civil trial, has died. He was 76. (Sam Mircovich/Pool Photo via AP, File)

  • FILE – In this Oct. 3, 1995, file photo, O.J....

    FILE – In this Oct. 3, 1995, file photo, O.J. Simpson reacts as he is found not guilty in the death of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman in Los Angeles. Defense attorneys F. Lee Bailey, left, and Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. stand with him. Simpson, the decorated football superstar and Hollywood actor who was acquitted of charges he killed his former wife and her friend but later found liable in a separate civil trial, has died. He was 76. (Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Daily ɫ̳ via AP, Pool, File)

  • FILE – O.J. Simpson bites his lip Friday, July 8,...

    FILE – O.J. Simpson bites his lip Friday, July 8, 1994, as he listens to Dr. Irwin L. Golden, a medical examiner, describe the extent of Nicole Simpson Brown’s wounds during testimony in Los Angeles Criminal Courts. Simpson, the decorated football superstar and Hollywood actor who was acquitted of charges he killed his former wife and her friend but later found liable in a separate civil trial, has died. He was 76. (AP Photo/Eric Draper, File)

  • FILE – In this June 17, 1994, file photo, a...

    FILE – In this June 17, 1994, file photo, a white Ford Bronco, driven by Al Cowlings carrying O.J. Simpson, is trailed by Los Angeles police cars as it travels on a freeway in Los Angeles. Simpson, the decorated football superstar and Hollywood actor who was acquitted of charges he killed his former wife and her friend but later found liable in a separate civil trial, has died. He was 76. (AP Photo/Joseph Villarin, File)

  • FILE – In this 1977 file photo shows Buffalo Bills...

    FILE – In this 1977 file photo shows Buffalo Bills NFL Football player O.J. Simpson. (AP Photo, File)

  • FILE – Buffalo Bills’ O.J. Simpson posed in 1969. O.J....

    FILE – Buffalo Bills’ O.J. Simpson posed in 1969. O.J. Simpson, the decorated football superstar and Hollywood actor who was acquitted of charges he killed his former wife and her friend but later found liable in a separate civil trial, has died. He was 76. Simpson’s attorney confirmed to TMZ he died Wednesday night, April 10, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/File)

  • FILE – Southern Cal’s O.J. Simpson poses with the Heisman...

    FILE – Southern Cal’s O.J. Simpson poses with the Heisman Trophy at New York’s Downtown Athletic Club, Dec. 5, 1968. O.J. Simpson, the decorated football superstar and Hollywood actor who was acquitted of charges he killed his former wife and her friend but later found liable in a separate civil trial, has died. He was 76. Simpson’s attorney confirmed to TMZ he died Wednesday night, April 10, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/File)

  • FILE – Buffalo Bills runningback O.J. Simpson (32) runs over...

    FILE – Buffalo Bills runningback O.J. Simpson (32) runs over some teammates as he latches onto Joe DeLamielleurs (68) during an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Rich Stadium in Buffalo, N.Y., Sept. 3, 1977. Buccaneers Council Rudolph (78) follows at right. (AP Photo/File)

  • FILE – In this May 14, 2013, file photo, O.J....

    FILE – In this May 14, 2013, file photo, O.J. Simpson sits during a break on the second day of an evidentiary hearing in Clark County District Court in Las Vegas. Simpson, the decorated football superstar and Hollywood actor who was acquitted of charges he killed his former wife and her friend but later found liable in a separate civil trial, has died. He was 76.  (AP Photo/Ethan Miller, Pool, File)

  • FILE – O.J. Simpson speaks to the media about being...

    FILE – O.J. Simpson speaks to the media about being traded from the Buffalo Bills to the San Francisco 49ers as 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr. looks on during a press conference in San Francisco, March 24, 1978. O.J. Simpson, the decorated football superstar and Hollywood actor who was acquitted of charges he killed his former wife and her friend but later found liable in a separate civil trial, has died. He was 76. Simpson’s attorney confirmed to TMZ he died Wednesday night, April 10, 2024, in Las Vegas.(AP Photo/Sal Veder, File)

  • FILE – In this May 6, 1980, file photo, former...

    FILE – In this May 6, 1980, file photo, former NFL football star O.J. Simpson and friend, Nicole Brown get together at party in the Beverly Hills section of Los Angeles. Simpson, the decorated football superstar and Hollywood actor who was acquitted of charges he killed his former wife and her friend but later found liable in a separate civil trial, has died. He was 76.  (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)

  • FILE – Buffalo Bills running back O.J. Simpson leaves the...

    FILE – Buffalo Bills running back O.J. Simpson leaves the New York Jets defense behind as he breaks loose for a touchdown in the second quarter of the Bills 34-14 win at Shea Stadium in New York, Dec. 16, 1973. O.J. Simpson, the decorated football superstar and Hollywood actor who was acquitted of charges he killed his former wife and her friend but later found liable in a separate civil trial, has died. He was 76. Simpson’s attorney confirmed to TMZ he died Wednesday night, April 10, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/File)

  • FILE – O.J. Simpson and his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson,...

    FILE – O.J. Simpson and his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, arrive for the opening of the Harley-Davidson Cafe in New York on Oct. 19, 1993. Simpson, the decorated football superstar and Hollywood actor who was acquitted of charges he killed Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend but later found liable in a separate civil trial, has died. He was 76. (AP Photo/Paul Hurschmann, File)

  • FILE – San Francisco 49ers running back O.J. Simpson is...

    FILE – San Francisco 49ers running back O.J. Simpson is escorted from the field by police after the final NFL football game of his career, Dec. 16, 1979, against in the Atlanta Falcons at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta, Ga. O.J. Simpson, the decorated football superstar and Hollywood actor who was acquitted of charges he killed his former wife and her friend but later found liable in a separate civil trial, has died. He was 76. Simpson’s attorney confirmed to TMZ he died Wednesday night, April 10, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo, File)

  • FILE – O.J. Simpson and his defense attorney Daniel Leonard...

    FILE – O.J. Simpson and his defense attorney Daniel Leonard leave Los Angeles County Superior court in Santa Monica, Calif., Friday, Nov. 22, 1996, after testifying in the wrongful death civil trial against him. Simpson, the decorated football superstar and Hollywood actor who was acquitted of charges he killed his former wife and her friend but later found liable in a separate civil trial, has died. He was 76.  (AP Photo/Michael Caulfield, File)

  • FILE – Former football star O.J. Simpson carries the Olympic...

    FILE – Former football star O.J. Simpson carries the Olympic torch through the streets of Santa Monica, Calif., Saturday, July 21, 1984. O.J. Simpson, the decorated football superstar and Hollywood actor who was acquitted of charges he killed his former wife and her friend but later found liable in a separate civil trial, has died. He was 76. Simpson’s attorney confirmed to TMZ he died Wednesday night, April 10, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac, File)

  • FILE – Former football player O.J. Simpson, right, clowns around...

    FILE – Former football player O.J. Simpson, right, clowns around with Los Angeles Rams running back Eric Dickerson in a San Francisco, Calif., hotel Dec. 14, 1984. O.J. Simpson, the decorated football superstar and Hollywood actor who was acquitted of charges he killed his former wife and her friend but later found liable in a separate civil trial, has died. He was 76. Simpson’s attorney confirmed to TMZ he died Wednesday night, April 10, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

  • FILE – O.J. Simpson, second from right is joined by,...

    FILE – O.J. Simpson, second from right is joined by, from left, Frank Gatski, Joe Namath, Pete Rozelle, and Roger Staubach, right, during enshrinement ceremonies at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, Aug. 3, 1985. O.J. Simpson, the decorated football superstar and Hollywood actor who was acquitted of charges he killed his former wife and her friend but later found liable in a separate civil trial, has died. He was 76. (AP Photo/Ernie Mastroianni, File)

  • FILE – San Francisco 49ers running back O.J. Simpson looks...

    FILE – San Francisco 49ers running back O.J. Simpson looks over his shoulder at fans in the stands calling for his attention before an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons game in Atlanta, Sunday, Dec. 16 1979. O.J. Simpson, the decorated football superstar and Hollywood actor who was acquitted of charges he killed his former wife and her friend but later found liable in a separate civil trial, has died. He was 76. (AP Photo/Charles Kelly, File)

  • FILE – Buffalo Bills Hall of Fame running back O.J....

    FILE – Buffalo Bills Hall of Fame running back O.J. Simpson with fans prior to an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, in Orchard Park, N.Y. O.J. Simpson, the decorated football superstar and Hollywood actor who was acquitted of charges he killed his former wife and her friend but later found liable in a separate civil trial, has died. He was 76. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes, File)

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Live TV coverage of his arrest after a famous slow-speed chase marked a stunning fall from grace.

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He had seemed to transcend racial barriers as the star Trojans tailback for college football’s powerful University of Southern California in the late 1960s, as a rental car ad pitchman rushing through airports in the late 1970s, and as the husband of a blond and blue-eyed high school homecoming queen in the 1980s.

“I’m not Black, I’m O.J.,” he liked to tell friends.

The public was mesmerized by his “trial of the century” on live TV. His case sparked debates on race, gender, domestic abuse, celebrity justice and police misconduct.

A criminal court jury found him not guilty of murder in 1995, but a separate civil trial jury found him liable in 1997 for the deaths and ordered him to pay $33.5 million to family members of Brown and Goldman.

A decade later, still shadowed by the California wrongful death judgment, Simpson led five men he barely knew into a confrontation with two sports memorabilia dealers in a cramped Las Vegas hotel room. Two men with Simpson had guns. A jury convicted Simpson of armed robbery and other felonies.

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Imprisoned at age 61, he served nine years in a remote northern Nevada prison, including a stint as a gym janitor. He was not contrite when he was released on parole in October 2017. The parole board heard him insist yet again that he was only trying to retrieve sports memorabilia and family heirlooms stolen from him after his criminal trial in Los Angeles.

“I’ve basically spent a conflict-free life, you know,” said Simpson, whose parole ended in late 2021.

Public fascination with Simpson never faded. Many debated whether he had been punished in Las Vegas for his acquittal in Los Angeles. In 2016, he was the subject of both an FX miniseries and five-part ESPN documentary.

“I don’t think most of America believes I did it,” Simpson told The New York Times in 1995, a week after a jury determined he did not kill Brown and Goldman. “I’ve gotten thousands of letters and telegrams from people supporting me.”

Twelve years later, following an outpouring of public outrage, Rupert Murdoch canceled a planned book by the ɫ̳ Corp.-owned HarperCollins in which Simpson offered his hypothetical account of the killings. It was to be titled “If I Did It.”

Goldman’s family, still doggedly pursuing the multimillion-dollar wrongful death judgment, won control of the manuscript. They retitled the book “If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer.”

“It’s all blood money, and unfortunately I had to join the jackals,” Simpson told The Associated Press at the time. He collected $880,000 in advance money for the book, paid through a third party.

“It helped me get out of debt and secure my homestead,” he said.

Less than two months after losing the rights to the book, Simpson was arrested in Las Vegas.

David Cook, an attorney who has been seeking since 2008 to collect the civil judgment in the Goldman case, said he’d spoken with Ron’s father, Fred, on Thursday about Simpson’s death. Cook declined to say what Fred Goldman said or where he was.

“He died without penance,” Cook said of Simpson. “We don’t know what he has, where it is or who is in control. We will pick up where we are and keep going with it.”

Simpson played 11 NFL seasons, nine of them with the Buffalo Bills, where he became known as “The Juice” on an offensive line known as “The Electric Company.” He won four NFL rushing titles, rushed for 11,236 yards in his career, scored 76 touchdowns and played in five Pro Bowls. His best season was 1973, when he ran for 2,003 yards — the first running back to break the 2,000-yard rushing mark.

“I was part of the history of the game,” he said years later. “If I did nothing else in my life, I’d made my mark.”

Of course, Simpson went on to other fame.

One of the artifacts of his murder trial, the carefully tailored tan suit he wore when acquitted, was later donated and placed on display at the ɫ̳eum in Washington. Simpson had been told the suit would be in the hotel room in Las Vegas, but it turned out it wasn’t there.

Orenthal James Simpson was born July 9, 1947, in San Francisco, where he grew up in government-subsidized housing projects.

After graduating from high school, he enrolled at City College of San Francisco for a year and a half before transferring to the University of Southern California for the spring 1967 semester.

He married his first wife, Marguerite Whitley, on June 24, 1967, moving her to Los Angeles the next day so he could begin preparing for his first season with — which, in large part because of Simpson, won that year’s national championship.

Simpson won the Heisman Trophy in 1968. He accepted the statue the same day that his first child, Arnelle, was born.

He had two sons, Jason and Aaren, with his first wife; one of those boys, Aaren, drowned as a toddler in a swimming pool accident in 1979, the same year he and Whitley divorced.

Simpson and Brown were married in 1985. They had two children, Justin and Sydney, and divorced in 1992. Two years later, Nicole Brown Simpson was found murdered.

“We don’t need to go back and relive the worst day of our lives,” he told the AP 25 years after the double slayings. “The subject of the moment is the subject I will never revisit again. My family and I have moved on to what we call the ‘no negative zone.’ We focus on the positives.”

Biographical material in this story was written by former AP Special Correspondent Linda Deutsch.

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