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The sports world lost one of its most well-known and controversial figures this week, with former NFL great O.J. Simpson dying Wednesday at the age of 76, as his family announced. The longtime running back leaves behind a complicated legacy that includes a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and an infamous 1995 acquittal of double-murder charges.

Here's a look back at some of the most headlining moments of Simpson's on- and off-field career:


July 9, 1947

Orenthal James "O.J." Simpson is born in San Francisco.

Sept. 15, 1967

Simpson debuts at running back for the USC Trojans after two years at the City College of San Francisco. He goes on to lead the nation in rushing with 1,543 yards.

Nov. 26, 1968

Simpson wins the Heisman Trophy after leading the nation in rushing for a second straight year, this time with an NCAA-record 1,880 yards and 23 touchdowns.

Jan. 28, 1969

The Buffalo Bills select Simpson with the first overall pick of the 1969 NFL Draft.

Dec. 17, 1972

After three sub-800-yard seasons to start his NFL career, Simpson completes his first 1,000-yard rushing campaign at the professional level, leading the league with 1,251 yards.

Dec. 16, 1973

Nicknamed "The Juice" for his explosiveness at the center of the Bills' offense, Simpson becomes the first player in NFL history to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season, earning the NFL MVP award in the process.

1975Simpson becomes a regular in TV advertisements for Hertz rental cars, going on to become Advertising Age's Star Presenter of the Year.

Dec. 12, 1976

Simpson wraps his fifth straight 1,100-yard rushing season, which earns him a fifth straight All-Pro and Pro Bowl nod. This also marks the fourth time he's led the NFL in rushing.

1977Simpson branches further into the entertainment industry, starring in the Emmy-winning TV series "Roots" -- one of more than 30 eventual film or TV projects in which he appeared.
March 24, 1978After his 1977 season is cut short due to injury, Simpson is traded by the Bills to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for five draft picks.

Aug. 26, 1979

Simpson's youngest daughter, Aaren, 1, dies of respiratory failure after drowning in the family swimming pool. This comes just five months after Simpson's divorce from Marguerite Whitley, whom he had married at 19, while attending community college.

Dec. 16, 1979

Simpson carries the ball just two times to close the 49ers' season, finishing with a career-low 460 yards and proceeding to announce his retirement from football after 11 years.

Feb. 2, 1985

Simpson marries Nicole Brown, a former Beverly Hills waitress he'd reportedly begun seeing at the end of his first marriage. They go on to have two children together.

Aug. 3, 1985Simpson is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame after a career that included 11,236 total rushing yards, which still ranks just outside the top 20 all-time.
1988Simpson continues his foray into post-playing ventures, starring in "The Naked Gun" comedy series and preparing for broadcasting gigs with ABC and NBC.

May 22, 1989

Simpson pleads no contest to charges of spousal battery, accused of slapping, kicking and threatening to kill his wife, Nicole Brown. Three years later, Brown files for divorce.

June 12, 1994

Brown and her friend Ronald Goldman are found stabbed to death in Los Angeles. Simpson is quickly named a person of interest in the killings.

June 17, 1994

Officially charged with both murders, Simpson flees police as a passenger in a white Ford Bronco -- now famous for its televised low-speed cruise down Southern California freeways, driven by former teammate A.C. Cowlings.

Oct. 3, 1995

After a polarizing 11-month trial, Simpson is acquitted of both murders.

Feb. 5, 1997Simpson is ordered to pay $33.5 million in damages to the Brown and Goldman families after a jury finds him liable for wrongful death and battery.
Oct. 3, 2008Exactly 13 years after his acquittal for double murder, Simpson is sentenced to 33 years in prison for kidnapping and armed robbery, admitting to stealing some of his old sports memorabilia back from a Las Vegas dealer at gunpoint.
Oct. 1, 2017After nearly nine years in prison, Simpson is released on parole. Just over four years later, he is released from parole early due to good behavior.
2023Simpson reveals he has been diagnosed with cancer. Reports later indicate he has begun treatment for prostate cancer, including chemotherapy.
April 10, 2024Simpson's family announces he has died at the age of 76.