Watch CBS News

World reacts to O.J. Simpson's death, from lawyers and victim's relatives to sports stars and celebrities

Remembering the O.J. Simpson murder trial
Remembering the O.J. Simpson murder trial 28:42

Reactions to the death of O.J. Simpson have begun to percolate, as comments that cropped up steadily on social media, in the press and on television from public figures and people who personally knew him reflected the division that still exists over his famous acquittal.

Simpson died Wednesday from complications of prostate cancer, his agent confirmed to CBS News. He was 76.

A National Football League star, actor and broadcaster before his estranged wife's murder in 1994, Simpson rapidly drew global attention and notoriety when he was accused in the double murder of Nicole Brown and her friend, Ron Goldman. The criminal trial, widely regarded as the "trial of the century," garnered obsessive media coverage and mass viewership while prompting debates that would persist in public forums for decades.

Simpson was acquitted of the murders in 1995, but a jury in a civil trial later found him liable for the deaths of Brown and Goldman, and he was ordered to pay $33.5 million in damages to their family members. That balance was never paid in full. Simpson in 2008 was convicted of armed robbery and other felonies, including weapons charges, stemming from an incident in Las Vegas the previous year in which he and several co-defendants stole sports memorabilia Simpson claimed belonged to him. He ultimately served nine years in a remote Nevada prison and was released in 2017.

OJ Simpson when the not guilty verdict during his his criminal murder trial, Los Angeles, California, October 3, 1995. Photo by Agence France Presse/Getty Images

"He had a very complicated legacy," attorney Carl E. Douglas, who was on Simpson's legal team during the murder trial, told CBS News. Douglas spoke of the nuances involved in Simpson's trial and verdict, and what they meant for many who saw it as a turning point in American culture.

"For decades, centuries, Black and Brown people have believed that the system did not work for us, that racism was permeating our system and making it impossible for justice ever to be found by Black and Brown defendants," Douglas said. 

"And whatever you think of this verdict, for Black Americans, it was not speaking about O.J. Simpson per se. He did not speak to the Black community in ways that other Black icons did," he said. "But for the system, for Black lawyers to be successful, for people to believe that at least once in our history the system acknowledged the excellence of Black lawyering, that was a watershed event for all of the country observe. And I'm proud to have been a part of that nine-member team."

O.J. Simpson's lawyer from 1995 trial reacts to his death 13:10

David Cook, an attorney who has worked for more than a decade to collect the multi-million dollar civil settlement awarded to the relatives of Brown and Goldman, responded to the news of Simpson's death in a statement to The Associated Press.

"He died without penance," Cook said of Simpson, according to AP. The attorney for Goldman's family also said he intends to continue pursuing the settlement. 

"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," Cook told AP.

Goldman's father, Fred Goldman, told NBC News that Simpson's death was "no great loss to the world."

"The only thing I have to say is it's just further reminder of Ron being gone all these years," he told the outlet. "It's no great loss to the world. It's a further reminder of Ron's being gone."  

Fred Goldman, father of Ronald Goldman, and wife Patty listen to testimony during a preliminary hearing following the murders of Ronald and O.J. Simpson's ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson July 7, 1994 in Los Angeles.  Lee Celano/WireImage

Attorney Alan Dershowitz, who worked as a legal adviser on Simpson's criminal defense team, acknowledged to NBC News in a separate statement that the 1994 murder trial and eventual acquittal is a large part of Simpson's legacy.

"I knew he was very sick, so I'm upset that he died," Dershowitz told NBC News. "I got to know him fairly well during the trial. It was one of the most divisive trials in American history along racial lines. He'll always be remembered for the Bronco chase, for the glove, and for the moment of acquittal."

Celebrities have also shared reactions to Simpson's death. Thursday's episode of "The View" began its morning show with co-host Whoopi Goldberg giving audiences the news before segueing into a broader conversation about the trial. Co-host Sunny Hostin, who is an attorney, shared that the outcome of Simpson's trial was part of what inspired her to pursue a career in law.

"I remember feeling a great sense of injustice happened. It's one of the reasons I became a prosecutor," Hostin said, referring to Simpson's acquittal. "For me, the tragedy was the injustice."

Co-host Alyssa Farrah Griffin agreed that the acquittal "was a miscarriage of justice" and addressed the families of Brown and Goldman.

"To me, when someone like this passes, really my only thought is, I hope it gives some peace to the family of the victims," Griffin said. "They did win the civil suit after the fact, because I agree that it was a miscarriage of justice, but that doesn't make up for it. So, I hope that it helps them find some peace."

Caitlyn Jenner, the former Olympian and reality TV personality, shared a brief message in response to Simpson's death.

"Good riddance," Jenner wrote on social media. Jenner was previously married to Kris Jenner, whose late husband, California attorney Robert Kardashian, was a friend of Simpson's and helped with his defense during the murder trial.

Several athletes have shared messages honoring Simpson's legacy. Before the murders of Brown and Goldman, Simpson earned fame as a college standout at USC — winning the Heisman trophy in 1968 — and for his 11-season run in the NFL, the first nine of which were spent with the Buffalo Bills.

"O.J. Simpson was the first player to reach a rushing mark many thought could not be attained in a 14-game season when he topped 2,000 yards. His on-field contributions will be preserved in the hall's archives in Canton, Ohio," said Jim Porter, president of the Professional Football Hall of Fame, in a statement. Several professional football players, including Jevon Holland, Eric Ebron and Darius Slayton, reacted to Simpson's death with social media posts saying "Rest in Peace."

Simpson's family announced his death Thursday in a social media post.

"On April 10th, our father, Orenthal James Simpson, succumbed to his battle with cancer," the statement read. "He was surrounded by his children and grandchildren. During this time of transition, his family asks that you please respect their wishes for privacy and grace."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.