From the Heisman to white Bronco chase and murder trial: A timeline of O.J. Simpson’s life

From the Heisman to white Bronco chase and murder trial: A timeline of O.J. Simpson’s life


Once the most high-profile celebrity in the country, O.J. Simpson died Wednesday at the age of 76.

The California native lived a life consistently in the spotlight, whether it was his football career, his acting career or a murder accusation and trial that captivated the nation. Simpson was one of the most polarizing figures in the country and seemed to always be in the news, all the way up to his death on Wednesday.

“During this time of transition, his family asks that you please respect their wishes for privacy and grace,” his family said in a statement on social media.

Here is a timeline of the biggest moments from Simpson’s life:

When was O.J. Simpson born?

Simpson was born on July 9, 1947.

Where was O.J. Simpson born?

Simpson was born and raised in San Francisco, California.

Start of O.J. Simpson’s football career

With Simpson still in the San Francisco area, he attended Galileo High School, where he was a star running back, defensive back and track athlete. After graduating in 1965, he started his college career at City College of San Francisco. There, he was named a junior college All-American as a running back in 1966. Simpson transferred to Southern California after two seasons.

O.J. Simpson wins Heisman Trophy

Simpson became an instant star for the Trojans. During his first season with Southern California, he led the nation with 1,543 rushing yards and scored 13 touchdowns to help lead USC to a national championship. He finished second in the Heisman Trophy race to UCLA quarterback Gary Beban.

His senior season in 1968, Simpson continued to lead USC as he ran for a then NCAA-record 1,709 yards and 22 touchdowns. Simpson won the 1968 Heisman Trophy by 1,750 points, a record margin at the time. To this day, his 855 first-place votes are the most in Heisman Trophy history. By the end of his college career, Simpson equaled or broke 19 NCAA, Pac-8 and USC records.

O.J. Simpson’s first marriage

Simpson married Marguerite Whitley in 1967, and they had three children: Arnelle Simpson, Jason Simpson and Aaren Simpson. In 1979, one-year-old Aaren drowned in the family’s swimming pool. Simpson and Whitley divorced in 1979.

O.J. Simpson is No. 1 pick in NFL Draft

With such a stellar college career, Simpson was the easy choice in the 1969 AFL-NFL Draft. He was the No. 1 overall pick by the Buffalo Bills.

O.J. Simpson breaks NFL rushing record

Simpson had a mediocre start to his NFL career, but he really broke out in his fourth season in 1972, when the Bills hired Lou Saban as head coach. That season, Simpson led the NFL in rushing yards with 1,251.

His legendary season came in 1973. On Dec. 16, 1973, Simpson ran for 200 yards against the New York Jets at Shea Stadium to become the first player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a single season − he finished with 2,003 rushing yards. His 143.1 rushing yards per game that season is still the highest mark in NFL history, and he was named league MVP that season.

O.J. Simpson retires

Simpson ran for more than 1,000 yards in the three seasons after his MVP year, but in 1978, Buffalo traded him to the San Francisco 49ers. Simpson wasn’t a star for San Francisco, and he played two seasons for the 49ers before retiring in 1979 after a decade in the league.

He finished his career with 11,236 rushing yards, 2,142 receiving yards and 990 kick return yards. Simpson totaled 76 career touchdowns.

O.J. Simpson acting career

A football career didn’t stop Simpson from becoming an actor, getting roles as early as 1968, the same year he won the Heisman. He appeared in several movies and TV shows, but his most memorable role was as Detective Nordberg in the “Naked Gun” comedy films, opposite star Leslie Nielsen. Simpson appeared in all three movies from 1988 to 1994.

Simpson also appeared in Hertz commercials and hosted Saturday Night Live in 1978. During this time, he also worked as a commentator on “Monday Night Football” and NFL games on NBC.

Documentary: How to watch FX’s ‘The People v. O.J. Simpson’ and ESPN’s ‘O.J. Made in America’

O.J. Simpson inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame

Simpson was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985, his first year of eligibility. During his enshrinement speech, Simpson thanked all of the people that were part of his football journey.

“I want to thank God for when I think about history and all the great people for allowing me to live at a time when such basic talents of body functions as running and jumping would be worthy of applause,” Simpson said in his speech. ” I just want all the fans in the NFL to know how much I appreciate it. No matter what stadium I would play in, you cheered me and made me feel appreciated and welcome. And I want to tell you that I know now already in my heart and in my memories the things that I will miss the most about this game is the sound of your applause and your cheers.”

O.J. Simpson marries Nicole Brown

Simpson met Nicole Brown in the late 1970s and they were married in 1985. The couple had two children and were married for seven years before they were divorced in 1992.

Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman found dead

On June 12, Brown and friend Ron Goldman were found stabbed to death in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. Simpson had a domestic violence charge against Brown during their marriage and he was immediately a person of interest in the deaths.

O.J. Simpson police chase

Charges were pressed against Simpson and a warrant was issued for his arrest for the death of Brown and Goldman. Simpson planned to turn himself in, but instead led a low-speed car chase on June 17, 1994 that was televised with millions of viewers tuning in to see one of the most infamous moments of television history.

More: What happened to white Ford Bronco in O.J. Simpson car chase?

O.J. Simpson trial

With Simpson charged as the suspect in the murder of Brown and Goldman, his trial took place in 1995 and was dubbed the “Trial of the Century” as it was televised. People involved in the case, from the prosecutors to the judge, became celebrities.

With its coverage, the case had some of the biggest moments to ever happen in court, including when Simpson struggled to put his hand inside of the bloody glove found at the scene of the crime. One of Simpson’s attorneys, the famous Johnnie Cochran, uttered a now-infamous phrase, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”

More: Late Johnnie Cochran’s firm prays families find ‘measure of peace’ after O.J. Simpson’s death

O.J. Simpson found not guilty of murder

After nearly a year in court, the jury reached a verdict in Simpson’s trial. On October 3, 1995, the jury found Simpson “not guilty” of the two murders, a decision applauded and ridiculed across the country. No one was ever arrest for the murders, but Simpson was found liable in a wrongful death lawsuit. He was ordered to pay millions of dollars to both families.

‘If I Did It’

A book was released in 2007 titled “If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer,” which supposedly detailed through an interview with a ghost writer − how Simpson would have killed Brown and Goldman. There was much controversy surrounding the release of the book, and the Goldman family was awarded the rights to book.

O.J. Simpson robbery, prison sentence

In 2007, Simpson and a group of people went into a room at Palace Station in Las Vegas, where he and others took memorabilia that he alleged was stolen from him at gunpoint.

He was arrested days afterward for his involvement, and his trial took place in 2008. In court, Simpson was found guilty of several counts and was sentence to 33 years in prison with the possibility of parole after nine years (2017). Simpson served his sentence at Lovelock Correctional Center in Nevada.

O.J. Simpson release from prison

In 2017, Simpson was granted parole from his prison sentence and was released from prison on Oct. 1, 2017. In December 2021, Simpson was released from his parole.

O.J. Simpson cancer diagnosis, death

Simpson’s family said he succumbed to a cancer diagnosis April 10. The Pro Football Hall of Fame said Simpson had prostate cancer and he received chemotherapy treatment.

Simpson’s diagnosis of prostate cancer was made public about two months ago, and he had received chemotherapy treatment.

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