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O. J. Simpson was born on this date in 1947. He is a (retired) African American football player, actor, and broadcaster.
Orenthal James Simpson was born in San Francisco to Eunice Durden and James Lee Simpson. His aunt gave him the name Orenthal, which supposedly was the name of a French actor she liked. His parents separated in 1952. Simpson has one brother: Melvin Leon "Truman" Simpson, and two sisters: Shirley Simpson-Baker and Carmelita Simpson-Durio.
As a child, from the age of three to five, he had to wear homemade braces after contracting rickets. In 1960, he joined the Persian Warriors, a San Francisco street gang and was jailed at the San Francisco Youth Guidance Center in 1962.
Simpson played football at Galileo High School in San Francisco. From 1965 to 1966, he was a student at City College of San Francisco. He played both offense (running back) and defense (defensive back), and was named to the Junior College All American team as a running back. Simpson earned an athletic scholarship to the University of Southern California where he played in 1967 and 1968. Simpson led the nation in rushing with 1,451 yards and 11 touchdowns in 1967. He also ran on the USC sprint relay team that broke the world record at the NCAA track championships in Provo, Utah, in June 1967. In 1968, he rushed for 1,709 yards and 22 touchdowns, earning the Heisman Trophy, the Maxwell Award, and the Walter Camp Award that year.
He still holds the record for the Heisman's largest margin of victory, defeating the runner-up by 1,750 points. Simpson's NFL achievements included most rushing yards gained in one season, most rushing yards gained in a single game, and most touchdowns scored in a season. The majority of Simpson's career was spent playing for the Buffalo Bills, though he finished his professional football career in 1979 with the San Francisco 49ers.
After retiring from football, Simpson was a sports commentator and actor. He regularly was seen in Hertz rental car television advertisements and regularly played golf at various events sponsored by Hertz.
Simpson's first marriage ended in separation and divorce. In 1979, a year after his separation, Simpson's first child of his prior marriage drowned in his Rockingham mansion pool. While still married to his first wife, Simpson met a 17-year-old waitress, Nicole Brown. Simpson married Nicole Brown in 1985. Their first child was born 7 months later. Brown Simpson often complained to friends and family of beatings by Simpson, who did not approve of her flirtatious association with other men. Simpson denied ever hitting Brown Simpson, and said that her injuries came as a result of friendly "wrestling." After what was described as a "rocky marriage," Nicole filed for divorce in 1992.
On June 12, 1994, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were discovered stabbed to death. Suspicion soon focused on Simpson as the perpetrator of the murders. After first fleeing (with a disguise and a passport) in his Bronco instead of surrendering to police, Simpson finally surrendered voluntarily. He was acquitted in criminal court in 1995 after a lengthy, highly publicized trial (often called the "Trial of the Century" in America). In 1997, Simpson was found liable for their deaths in civil court, but to date has paid little of the $33.5 million judgment.
Following his acquittal, Simpson's friends, in large part, seemed to melt away, especially in upper-class Los Angeles. He gained further notoriety in late 2006 when he wrote a book which purports to be a first-person fictional account of the murder had he actually committed it, titled "If I Did It." It was withdrawn by the publisher just before its release. O.J. Simpson entered a Nevada prison in 2010 and was released in October, 2017.
The Encyclopedia Britannica, Twenty-fourth Edition.
Copyright 1996 Encyclopedia Britannica Inc.