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О. Jay Simpson, the legendary soccer player and actor who was brought down by a murder trial, has died at the age of 76

О. Jay Simpson, the soccer star and Hollywood actor acquitted of murdering his ex-wife and her friend in a trial that mesmerized the public and exposed racial divisions and divisions among police officers in America, has died. He was 76 years old.

Simpson's family announced on his official X account that he died Wednesday of prostate cancer. He died in Las Vegas, officials said Thursday.

Simpson earned fame, fortune and adoration through soccer and show business, but his legacy was forever changed by the stabbing murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman in Los Angeles in June 1994. He was later found guilty of those deaths in a separate civil case and then served nine years in prison on charges unrelated to the murders.

Goldman's father, Fred, and his sister, Kim, released a statement acknowledging that "hope for true accountability is over".

"The news of Ron's killer's passing is a mixed bag of complex emotions that reminds us that the journey through grief is never linear", they wrote.

The live television broadcast of Simpson's arrest after the famous slow-speed chase was a stunning fall from the heavens.

He seemed to transcend racial barriers as the star quarterback of the mighty University of Southern California Trojans soccer team in the late 1960s, an airport car rental advertising agent in the late 1970s and the husband of a blond and blue-eyed high school prom queen in the 1980s.

"I'm not black, I'm O. J", he liked to tell his friends.

His trial captured America's attention on live television. The case sparked discussions about race, gender, domestic violence, celebrity justice and police misconduct.

The evidence found at the crime scene was overwhelmingly against Simpson. There were blood drops, bloody footprints and a glove. Another glove, smeared with blood, was found in his house.

Simpson did not testify, but the prosecution asked him to try on the gloves in court. He struggled to get them on his hands and said his only three words during the trial: "They're too small.

His attorney, Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. told the jury, "If it doesn't fit, you have to acquit".

In 1995, a jury found him not guilty of murder, but in 1997, a jury found him guilty of the deaths and ordered him to pay $33.5 million to Brown and Goldman's relatives.

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

Incarcerated at 61, he served nine years in a remote Nevada prison, including time as a gym janitor. He was unrepentant when he was released on parole in October 2017. The parole board once again convinced him that he was only trying to recover memorabilia and relics stolen from him after his criminal trial in Los Angeles.

"By and large, I've lived a conflict-free life", said Simpson, whose parole expires at the end of 2021.

The public's fascination with Simpson never waned. Many debated whether he was punished in Las Vegas for his acquittal in Los Angeles. In 2016, an FX mini-series and a five-part ESPN documentary were filmed about him.

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

Twelve years later, after a storm of public outrage, Rupert Murdoch canceled a book planned by News Corp.publisher HarperCollins in which Simpson offered his hypothetical account of the murders. The book was to have been titled "If I Did It".

Goldman's family, still stubbornly pursuing a multimillion-dollar wrongful death judgment, gained control of the manuscript. They renamed the book If I Did It: Confessions of a Murderer.

"It's all blood money, and unfortunately I had to join the jackals", Simpson told The Associated Press. He raised $880,000 in a book advance paid through a third party.

"It helped me get out of debt and secure a homestead", he says.

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

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

"I became part of the history of the game", he said years later. "If I had done nothing else in my life, I would have left my mark".

Simpson's soccer rise occurred at the same time as his television career. He signed with ABC Sports the night he won the Heisman Trophy in 1968. That same year, he starred in the NBC series Dragnet and Ironside. During his professional career, Simpson was a color commentator for ten years on ABC and then NBC. In 1983, he joined ABC's Monday Night Football program.

Simpson became a charismatic advertising agent. In 1975, Hertz made him the first black man hired for a corporate national advertising campaign. Commercials featuring Simpson running through airports to a Hertz counter while young girls chanted "Go, O.J., go!" became ubiquitous.

Simpson made his big screen debut in the 1974 film The Klansman, in which he starred alongside Lee Marvin and Richard Burton. The movie flopped, but Simpson went on to star in several dozen films and television series, including 1974's "Towering Inferno", 1976's "Cassandra's Crossing", 1977's "Roots" and 1977's "Capricorn One".

Most notable, perhaps, was the 1988 film The Naked Gun: From the Police Station Archives and two sequels. Simpson played Detective Nordberg in these slapstick films, opposite Leslie Nielsen.

Of course, other fame awaited Simpson as well.

One of the artifacts of the murder trial - the custom-made tan-colored suit in which he was acquitted - was donated and displayed at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. Simpson was told the suit would be in his Las Vegas hotel room, but it was not there.

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

After high school, he attended City College of San Francisco for a year and a half and then transferred to the University of Southern California for the spring semester of 1967.

He married his first wife, Marguerite Whitley, on June 24, 1967, and moved her to Los Angeles the next day to begin preparations for his first season with the USC team that, thanks in large part to Simpson, won the national championship that year.

On the day he received the Heisman Trophy, his firstborn son Arnell was born.

He had two sons, Jason and Aaren, by his first wife; one of them, Aaren, drowned as an infant in a swimming pool in 1979, the same year he and Wheatley 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 dead.

"We don't need to go back and relive the worst day of our lives", he told the AP 25 years after the double murder. "I will never go back to the subject of that moment again. My family and I have moved on to what we call the 'no negativity zone.' We're focused on the positive".

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