O.J. Simpson's Odd Moments In and Out Of the Spotlight
Friday, September 21, 2007
His children have grown up, his knees have given out, his fame has turned to notoriety. He can be seen golfing with the guys or partying with playmates -- at bars, or behind them. In the 12 years since O.J. Simpson was acquitted of murder, the everyday life of the former football star has swung wildly between the ordinary and the outrageous.
Simpson's arrest this week on felony charges stemming from the alleged armed robbery of sports memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas hotel room came after years of sporadic brushes with the law in Florida, where he moved with his two children after the controversial 1995 jury verdict that found him not guilty in the stabbing deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson, his estranged wife, and waiter Ron Goldman, her friend.
"We think he lives the life of a very comfortable person," said David Cook, the San Francisco lawyer hired by Goldman's father, Fred, to track Simpson's assets and try to collect the $33.5 million civil judgment a California court ordered Simpson to pay under a wrongful death suit. "He drives nice cars, he golfs in the morning, he lives in a house worth about $1.1 million."
The 1968 Heisman Trophy winner, once agile on the football field, is now a pudgy pensioner with arthritic knees on the public links of Miami, where his upscale suburban life is funded by four pensions that, on his 2003 tax returns, totaled $400,000 annually. He frequents chain restaurants and shopping malls, amiably pausing to sign autographs, which according to the Los Angeles Times sometimes bear the salutation "Peace and Love."
The pensions and his home are exempt from seizure under the civil judgment, which Cook said has netted $1,932 "and change" so far -- all from royalties from "The Naked Gun" movies, in which Simpson, before his ex-wife's murder, starred as a bumbling detective. Fred Goldman told The Washington Post in an interview earlier this month that he has collected "less than $10,000, all told."
Royalties from Simpson's newly released book, "If I Did It," will also go to Goldman, who won the rights to the book after a public outcry and threatened bookseller boycotts forced Simpson's publisher, HarperCollins, to ditch it. Simpson, 60, told the Associated Press that he had agreed to the ghostwritten book to earn "blood money" for his children. The book includes what he refers to as a fictionalized account of what may have happened in Nicole's courtyard that night.
Simpson's moneymaking efforts also turned macabre when he made an appearance at a horror movie convention in Los Angeles a day before the 10th anniversary of his acquittal in the Brentwood slayings. "I don't keep these dates in my head," Simpson told reporters as he signed sports memorabilia for collectors who had paid in advance for his signature at a private affair.
Ron Goldman's mother, Sharon Rufo, once put a swift stop to a similar autograph-signing gig in St. Louis by sending the sheriff to Simpson's hotel room with a writ claiming any money earned. Simpson, who has publicly declared that he will never pay the Goldmans a dime because he did not kill their son, canceled the Missouri appearance.
Simpson attempted something of an acting comeback recently with an Internet/mail-order-only DVD titled "Juiced," which promises "adult language, nudity, sexual situations, gross humor and is intended for mature audiences only!!" Among the milder "pranks" are Simpson posing as a homeless man selling oranges at an intersection and Simpson posing as a used-car salesman trying to unload a white Bronco with the pitch, "It was good for me. It helped me get away."
Videos may be all Simpson is watching on his own TV these days. A federal judge ordered him to pay $25,000 in damages two years ago for pirating satellite signals from DirecTV after government agents seized illegal devices known as "bootloaders" from his home in the Miami suburb of Kendall.
Simpson is also no stranger to local police, who have responded to domestic disputes involving altercations with a girlfriend half his age, and to a tearful 911 call a few years ago by his daughter Sydney, then 17, who told dispatchers her father "doesn't [expletive] love me or any of his kids!"
Last year, Sydney, now a 21-year-old student at Boston College, was sentenced to 50 hours of community service after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct and resisting arrest -- charges that sprang from a fight outside a prep school basketball game. She and her younger brother, Justin, 19, both attended the tony Gulliver Academy, where tuition costs up to $22,000 a year and the alumni roster includes Julio Iglesias and the offspring of former Florida governor Jeb Bush.
Simpson's longtime on-again, off-again girlfriend, cocktail waitress Christie Prody, began dating him shortly after his acquittal. At 32, she is younger than Simpson's oldest daughter and bears a high-cheekboned, blond resemblance to Nicole Brown Simpson. Despite police intervention in quarrels in which Simpson claimed Prody had attacked him and she claimed he had burglarized her home, neither has ever pressed charges against the other, and Prody was in the courtroom offering tearful support during Simpson's arraignment in Las Vegas.
Staff researcher Karl Evanzz contributed to this report.