Thursday , October 21 2021

"We focus on the positives": OJ Simpson says "life is good" after prison



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After 25 years living under the shadow of one of the country's most notorious cases of murder, OJ Simpson says his life has entered a phase he calls "zone without denial."

In a telephone interview, Simpson, 71, told the AP he was healthy and happy living in Las Vegas.

And neither he nor his kids want to look back on, talking about June 12, 1994 when his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and his friend Ronald Goldman were stabbed to death and Simpson was transformed from hero of the Football Hall of Fame to murder suspect.

"We do not need to come back and relive the worst day of our lives," he said.

"The subject of the moment is the subject that I will never revisit. My family and I have moved on to what we call a" non-negative zone. "We focus on the positives."

Simpson lives a relatively discreet life these days. He plays golf almost every day. The knees that helped him run to the glory of football at the University of Southern California and with the Buffalo Bills of the NFL were replaced, and he recently underwent Lasik surgery on his eyes. He said he stays close to his children and other relatives.

Relatives of Simpson and Goldman's ex-wife are angry. Simpson is able to live like him while his loved ones have had their lives interrupted in such a tragic way.

"I do not suffocate in my pain," Goldman's sister Kim told the AP in an interview last week.

"But every milestone that my son beats, every milestone I set, you know, these are just reminders of what I'm not able to share with my brother and what he's missing."

She wonders if Simpson is following the terms of her probation.

"Yes, I heard he's living Riley's life in Las Vegas, being treated like a king," Goldman said sarcastically. But she added that she rarely thinks of him unless someone points her name.

Ron Goldman, then 25, was returning a pair of sunglasses that Nicole Brown's mother Simpson had left in a restaurant where he worked when he and Simpson's ex-wife were stabbed dozens of times.

The "Judgment of the Century" televised by Simpson lasted almost a year and became a national obsession, fraught with issues of racism, police misconduct, celebrity, and domestic violence.

Represented by a legal "Dream Team" that included Johnnie Cochran Jr. and F. Lee Bailey, he was acquitted by a jury in 1995 in a verdict that divided the country along racial lines, with many white Americans believing he escaped with murder and many blacks considering him innocent.

He continued to declare his innocence. The murder case is officially listed as unresolved.

The families of the victims filed a civil suit against him and in 1997 he was ordered to pay $ 33.5 million for the unjust killings of his ex-wife and Goldman.

Some of its properties were seized and auctioned, but most of the judgment was not paid.

After 25 years living under the shadow of one of America's most notorious murder cases, OJ Simpson says life is okay.
After 25 years living under the shadow of one of America's most notorious murder cases, OJ Simpson says life is okay.

For a man who has lived in the limelight, Simpson has been discreet since his release from prison in October 2017, after serving nine years for a conviction for robbery and abduction in Las Vegas. He insisted that his conviction and sentence for trying to steal his memories were unfair, but said, "I believe in the legal system and I have honored it. I have served my time."

After his release from prison in Nevada, many expected him to return to Florida, where he lived for several years. But friends in Las Vegas convinced him to stay there.

"The city has been good to me," Simpson said. "Everyone I meet seems to be apologizing for what happened to me here."

His time in the city was not without controversy. A month after his release, a trip to a Las Vegas Strip steakhouse and lounge ended in a dispute. Simpson was expelled from the estate and prevented from returning.

None of these problems have occurred since, and Simpson is among the city's most sought-after figures for selfies with those who meet him at restaurants or sporting events he frequents occasionally.

His probation officer gave him permission to take short trips, including to Florida, where his two youngest sons, Justin and Sydney, built careers in real estate. Her eldest daughter, Arnelle, lives with him most of the time.

"I went to Florida two or three times to see the kids and my old friends in Miami. I even got to play a round of golf with them," he said. "But I live in a city I've learned to love. Life is fine."

He also visited relatives in Louisiana, he said, and spoke with a group of black judges and prosecutors in New Orleans.

Simpson said the glamor of his youth is just a reminder.

After his football career, Simpson became a commercial commentator, actor, and football commentator. Once a multimillionaire, he said that most of his fortune was spent defending himself from the murder charges.

Simpson declined to discuss his finances other than to say that he lives on retirements.

To coincide with Thursday's birthday, Kim Goldman will launch a 10-week podcast,

"Confronting: O.J. Simpson," in which she will interview her brother's friends, the detective who investigated the murders, the defense and prosecution lawyers, and two of the 12 jurors who acquitted Simpson.

She will continue to argue that Simpson is guilty.

Linda Deutsch is a retired AP special correspondent. She covered all of Simpson's legal cases during her 48-year career as a test reporter in Los Angeles.

– AP

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