O.J. Simpson granted parole after serving minimum sentence

He served just nine years out of a maximum of 33.

Former NFL football star O.J. Simpson enters for his parole hearing at the Lovelock Correctional Center in Lovelock, Nev., on Thursday, July 20, 2017. CREDIT: Jason Bean/The Reno Gazette-Journal via AP, Pool
Former NFL football star O.J. Simpson enters for his parole hearing at the Lovelock Correctional Center in Lovelock, Nev., on Thursday, July 20, 2017. CREDIT: Jason Bean/The Reno Gazette-Journal via AP, Pool

On Thursday, O.J. Simpson was granted parole after serving nine years in prison for armed robbery and kidnapping. His freedom, unanimously granted by the four-member Nevada Parole Board, came after he completed just the minimum of his potential sentence. (The maximum: 33 years.) Simpson, now 70 years old, could be setting foot outside the Lovelock Correctional Center as soon as October 1.

Simpson was arrested in 2007 after he, along with a handful of armed accomplices, broke into a hotel room full of sports memorabilia. Simpson — once famous for his astonishing football career, later infamous for his acquittal in the “trial of the century,” where he stood accused of murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman — insisted the items in question were his and had been stolen from him a decade before.

Thirteen years after evading a conviction for the double homicide, Simpson was convicted in the Las Vegas robbery on 12 criminal counts, including armed assault with a deadly weapon.

Simpson told the board that, having done his time, he was eager to return to his children. His oldest child, Arnelle, told the parole board that her father was “like my best friend and my rock,” and, though his actions “were clearly wrong,” he was ready to come home. One parole board member asked Simpson if he was “humbled by this incarceration.” Simpson said simply, “I wish this never would have happened.” (Later, he said, “I am sorry that things turned out the way they did.”)

In a stunning comment for anyone who believes Simpson did in fact brutally stab Goldman and Brown Simpson to death in 1994, Simpson told the board via video link that “I always thought I’ve been pretty good with people and have basically spent a conflict-free life.” (According to a 2016 Washington Post-ABC News poll, a majority of both black and white people believe Simpson was at least “probably guilty.”)

The Thursday hearing put Simpson in a position all too familiar for American audiences: in front of a camera, in a court hearing, waiting to hear if he would be imprisoned or released. The hearing was aired live on networks and cable news stations; it could be streamed online as well, and it lasted well over an hour.

For anyone who had forgotten about the 1995 trial, or were too young to appreciate the magnitude of the story, there were multiple opportunities to brush up on the details just last year. 2016 saw the premiere of both an Oscar-winning ESPN “30 for 30” docuseries, O.J.: Made in America, and FX’s Emmy-winning and zeitgeist-dominating scripted drama, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, which zeroed in on the trial and all its key players.