O.J. Simpson, Age 76, Former NFL Athlete, Dies of Cancer

The former USC and Buffalo Bills star player O.J. Simpson, who captured global attention after he was accused (and acquitted) of murdering his ex-wife, died in his Las Vegas home on Wednesday. He was 76.

His family confirmed on social media that Simpson succumbed to a battle with cancer.

Born Orenthal James Simpson on July 9th, 1947, he grew up with his family in the housing projects of Potrero Hill in San Francisco. As a child, he developed rickets and had to wear braces on his legs until he was five-years-old.

Simpson shined on the high school football field but was not highly recruited due to his grades. He went to City College of San Francisco, where he was named to the Junior College All-American team as a running back. He transferred to the University of Southern California and played as a running back with the Trojans, winning a Heisman trophy his senior year. 

He skyrocketed to fame during his decorated NFL career playing for the Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers, where he quickly became regarded as one of the best football players the NFL has ever seen. He was the only player to rush over 2000 yards in a single season. He maintained lucrative brand deals with Hertz and Wilson Sporting Goods and pursued a career in acting.

OJ Simpson buffalo bills
O.J. Simpson while playing for the Buffalo Bills. Image: UPI/Bettmann Archive/Getty Images.

His legacy as a massively successful athlete and actor was overshadowed when he was accused of murdering his former wife, Nicole Brown-Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman outside of her Los Angeles home. In October 1995, a jury rendered a verdict for Simpson of “not guilty.”

After the trial, Simpson struggled with his tarnished legacy, eventually facing prison time for armed robbery and kidnapping. He was released on parole in 2017 and lived out the rest of his life relatively quiet in Nevada. He leaves behind a complicated story, of great success and of deep trauma.

Updated: April 11, 2024 — 3:02 pm