O.J. Simpson, who ran to fame on the football field, made fortunes as an all-American in movies, television and advertising, and was acquitted of killing his former wife and her friend in a 1995 trial in Los Angeles that mesmerized the nation, died on Wednesday at his home in Las Vegas. He was 76.

The cause was cancer, his family announced on social media.

The jury in the murder trial cleared him, but the case, which had held up a cracked mirror to Black and white America, changed the trajectory of his life. In 1997, a civil suit by the victims’ families found him liable for the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald L. Goldman, and ordered him to pay $33.5 million in damages. He paid little of the debt, moved to Florida and struggled to remake his life, raise his children and stay out of trouble.

In 2006, he sold a book manuscript, titled “If I Did It,” and a prospective TV interview, giving a “hypothetical” account of murders he had always denied committing. A public outcry ended both projects, but Mr. Goldman’s family secured the book rights, added material imputing guilt to Mr. Simpson and had it published.

In 2007, he was arrested after he and other men invaded a Las Vegas hotel room of some sports memorabilia dealers and took a trove of collectibles. He claimed that the items had been stolen from him, but a jury in 2008 found him guilty of 12 charges, including armed robbery and kidnapping, after a trial that drew only a smattering of reporters and spectators. He was sentenced to nine to 33 years in a Nevada state prison. He served the minimum term and was released in 2017.

Over the years, the story of O.J. Simpson generated a tide of tell-all books, movies, studies and debate over questions of justice, race relations and celebrity in a nation that adores its heroes, especially those cast in rags-to-riches stereotypes, but that has never been comfortable with its deeper contradictions.

There were many in the Simpson saga. Yellowing old newspaper clippings yield the earliest portraits of a postwar child of poverty afflicted with rickets and forced to wear steel braces on his spindly legs, of a hardscrabble life in a bleak housing project and of hanging with teenage gangs in the tough back streets of San Francisco, where he learned to run.


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