Key events in OJ Simpson’s fall from sports hero, movie star

LAS VEGAS (AP) — O.J. Simpson’s story represents one of the most dramatic falls from grace in the history of American pop culture.

A beloved football hero in the 1960s and `70s, he transitioned effortlessly to movie star, sports commentator and TV pitchman in the years that followed.

He kept that role until the 1994 killings of his ex-wife and her friend. A jury acquitted him, but many still believe he carried out the grisly slayings.

Here’s a timeline of major events in the life of Simpson, now 70, who has been imprisoned in Nevada for armed robbery and faces a parole hearing Thursday:

— 1967: Simpson leads all college running backs in rushing in his first season at the University of Southern California.

— 1968: Simpson wins the Heisman Trophy, college football’s top honor.

— 1969: The first pick in the pro draft, Simpson goes to the Buffalo Bills and spends the next nine seasons with the team.

— 1973: He becomes the first NFL player to rush for 2,000 or more yards (2,003) in a season.

— 1979: Simpson retires, having rushed for 11,236 yards, second most in NFL history at the time.

— 1985: Simpson is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

— 1988: Simpson, who had been appearing in TV shows and commercials since the late 1960s, co-stars in the first of the “Naked Gun” crime comedies, perhaps his most popular role.

— February 1992: Nicole Brown Simpson files for divorce after seven years of marriage. It becomes final Oct. 15.

— June 12, 1994: Nicole Simpson and a friend, Ronald Goldman, are stabbed to death outside her Los Angeles home.

— June 17, 1994: Ordered by prosecutors to surrender, Simpson instead flees with a friend in a white Ford Bronco. It’s a nationally televised slow-speed chase across California freeways until police persuade him to surrender.

— June 1995: During Simpson’s trial, a prosecutor asks him to put on a pair of gloves believed worn by the killer. The gloves appear too small, leading defense attorney Johnnie Cochran to famously state in his closing argument: “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”

— Oct. 3, 1995: Simpson is acquitted of murder.

— February 1997: After a trial in a civil suit filed by the victims’ families, a jury finds Simpson liable for the deaths and orders he pay survivors $33.5 million.

— July 2007: A federal bankruptcy judge awards the rights to a book by Simpson, in which he discusses how he could have committed the killings, to Goldman’s family as partial payment of the judgment. The family renames the book “If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer.”

— September 2007: Simpson, accompanied by five men, confronts two sports-memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas hotel room, angrily telling them that most of the memorabilia they are planning to sell is rightfully his.

— Oct. 3, 2008: A jury finds Simpson and co-defendant Clarence “C.J.” Stewart guilty of kidnapping, armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary and conspiracy charges. The other accomplices had taken plea deals and received probation.

— December 2008: Simpson is sentenced to nine to 33 years and sent to Lovelock Correctional Center in northern Nevada.

— October 2010: The Nevada Supreme Court denies Simpson’s appeal but grants Stewart a new trial. Stewart takes a plea deal and is released.

— July 25, 2013: Simpson asks the Nevada Parole Board for leniency, saying he has tried to be a model prisoner. He wins parole on some convictions but is left with at least four more years to serve.

— June 2017: The parole board sets a July 20 hearing date.

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