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Stephen A. Smith reacts to O.J. Simpson’s death, weighs in on infamous trial: ‘I believed he was guilty’

The news of former NFL star O.J. Simpson’s death sparked a variety of mixed reactions across the sports world.

“On April 10th, our father, Orenthal James Simpson, succumbed to his battle with cancer,” the family announced Thursday on X, formerly Twitter. “During this time of transition, his family asks that you please respect their wishes for privacy and grace.”

Simpson has a complicated legacy. 

He was one of the greatest athletes of his time. Simpson won the Heisman Trophy during his standout career at USC. He won the NFL MVP in 1973 and later became a sports broadcaster and an actor. But his sports feats were overshadowed in 1994 when he was accused of the brutal killings of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.

Simpson was later found liable for both deaths in a lawsuit. 

Longtime ESPN broadcaster Stephen A. Smith had a scheduled day off Thursday because the network shifted much of its focus to the opening round of The Masters. But Smith called into “First Take” and reacted to Simpson’s death.


Smith asserted the murder charges far outweighed Simpson’s accomplishments on the field.

“There’s no balance to it. You can remember and you can engage in recall by bringing up his athletic prowess and his tremendous career as a football player,” Smith said. “But it all pales in comparison to him being perceived as a double murderer.

“When you think about O.J. Simpson, you may remember that he’s a football player, but what you remember most is the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. And you think, obviously, of him. There’s no way around that.”

Smith went on to discuss the impact the infamous criminal trial left on the nation. He also mentioned how the late Johnnie Cochran’s profile rose significantly as a result of the media attention surrounding the trial.

O.J. Simpson wearing the blood stained gloves found by Los Angeles Police

Smith then expressed his belief Simpson “committed those murders.”

“This is what it comes down to. Most people believe that he committed those murders,” Smith said. “I know that if I was on the jury, he would have been (in) the damn jail. I know that much. I believed he was guilty, but I don’t know. I’m talking about based on the evidence that was placed before us during the trial overseen by Judge Lance Ito.”

Simpson’s legal issues continued years later when he was arrested in Las Vegas for robbing two sports memorabilia collectors at gunpoint in 2007. He was released from prison in 2017, and his parole ended in 2021.

Simpson is survived by his four children.

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