23 years ago, OJ Simpson was found not guilty: The key moments in the former NFL star's life

PHOTO: O.J. Simpson, center, reacts as he is found not guilty of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman, with attorneys F. Lee Bailey, left, and Johnnie Cochran Jr., right, in Los Angeles Superior Court, Oct. 3, 1995.PlayMyung J. Chun/Daily News via AP FILE
WATCH Key moments in OJ Simpson's life

Wednesday marks 23 years since one of the most infamous criminal cases came to a close. On Oct. 3, 1995, after a televised criminal trial that captivated the nation, O.J. Simpson was found not guilty of the gruesome double murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and waiter Ron Goldman.

But a decade later, the former NFL star was back in court on kidnapping and armed robbery charges, and went on to spend nearly 10 years behind bars.

Here is a look back at key moments in Simpson's life.

A USC football star

In the 1960s, Simpson became a college football star as a running back for the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. In 1968, he won college football's top award, the Heisman Trophy.

PHOTO: In this Nov. 9, 1968 file photo, Southern Californias O.J. Simpson runs against California during a college football game in Los Angeles. AP
In this Nov. 9, 1968 file photo, Southern California's O.J. Simpson runs against California during a college football game in Los Angeles.

NFL success

In 1969, Simpson was the first pick in the NFL draft, and he made a name for himself playing for the Buffalo Bills.

In 1973, he became the first in the NFL to rush for 2,000 or more yards in one season.

PHOTO:Buffalo Bills running back O.J. Simpson during a football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Buffalo, N.Y., Sept. 3, 1977. AP
PHOTO:Buffalo Bills running back O.J. Simpson during a football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Buffalo, N.Y., Sept. 3, 1977.

Simpson retired in 1979 and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.

From football to film

Simpson left football behind for Hollywood, appearing in popular Hertz commercials in the 1970s as well as films including "Capricorn One" in the 1970s and "The Naked Gun" films in the '80s and '90s.

PHOTO: O.J. Simpson is seen in a still from The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! which also starred Leslie Nielsen. IMDb/Paramount Pictures
O.J. Simpson is seen in a still from "The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!" which also starred Leslie Nielsen.

Simpson and Nicole Brown

Simpson, already a father to three children with ex-wife Marguerite Whitley, married Nicole Brown in 1985. They had two children, Sydney and Justin.

PHOTO: O.J. Simpson and his wife Nicole Brown Simpson attend a party at the Harley Davidson Cafe in New York City, circa 1993. Rose Hartman/Getty Images
O.J. Simpson and his wife Nicole Brown Simpson attend a party at the Harley Davidson Cafe in New York City, circa 1993.

In 1992, Simpson and Nicole Brown Simpson divorced.

A gruesome double killing

The night of June 12, 1994, Brown Simpson and her family dined at a Los Angeles restaurant and she later returned to her Los Angeles home. Ron Goldman, a waiter at that restaurant, went to Brown Simpson's home to return glasses her mother had left at the restaurant.

Around midnight, Brown Simpson and Goldman were found stabbed to death at Brown Simpson's home.

Simpson was in Los Angeles the evening of June 12 but took a late flight that night to Chicago. When he returned to Los Angeles the next day, he was interviewed by police, but not immediately arrested.

The white Bronco chase

On June 17, 1994, prosecutors ordered Simpson to surrender, but instead he fled in a white Ford Bronco with his friend, leading police on a slow-speed chase that brought Southern California freeways to a standstill.

News helicopters flew overhead documenting the chase, and Angelinos gatherers on the roadways, and in front of their televisions, to watch in real time.

PHOTO: Motorists wave as police cars pursue the Ford Bronco carrying fugitive murder suspect O.J. Simpson on a 90-minute slow-speed car chase June 17, 1994 on the 405 freeway in Los Angeles, Calif. Jean-Marc Giboux/Liaison/Getty Images
Motorists wave as police cars pursue the Ford Bronco carrying fugitive murder suspect O.J. Simpson on a 90-minute slow-speed car chase June 17, 1994 on the 405 freeway in Los Angeles, Calif.
PHOTO: A white Ford Bronco, driven by Al Cowlings carrying O.J. Simpson, is trailed by Los Angeles police cars as it travels on a freeway in Los Angeles, June 17, 1994. Joseph Villarin/AP/FILE
A white Ford Bronco, driven by Al Cowlings carrying O.J. Simpson, is trailed by Los Angeles police cars as it travels on a freeway in Los Angeles, June 17, 1994.

Simpson then surrendered and was arrested.

An unforgettable trial and acquittal

In 1995, Simpson's trial transfixed the country.

PHOTO: OJ Simpson is seen with his legal team during the opening of the double homicide trial on January 5, 1995. AFP/Getty Images
OJ Simpson is seen with his legal team during the opening of the double homicide trial on January 5, 1995.

Defense attorneys claimed Simpson was wrongly accused but prosecutors argued that Simpson was a controlling husband who abused Brown Simpson. Prosecutors also pointed to blood found in Simpson's car and home, and the fact that he was unaccounted for for over an hour on the night of the killings.

During the trial, the prosecution asked Simpson to put on gloves believed to have been worn by the killer, but they didn't appear to fit properly.

Defense attorney Johnnie Cochran famously told the jury in his closing argument, "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit."

PHOTO: O.J. Simpson tries on a leather glove allegedly used in the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman during testimony in Simpsons murder trial June 15, 1995 in Los Angeles. Lee Celano/Getty Images
O.J. Simpson tries on a leather glove allegedly used in the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman during testimony in Simpson's murder trial June 15, 1995 in Los Angeles.

On Oct. 3, 1995, Simpson was acquitted of all criminal charges. He has always maintained his innocence.

A guilty verdict at civil court

In 1997, a civil jury found Simpson liable for wrongful death in the double murder. Simpson was ordered to pay $33.5 million in damages to the Brown and Goldman families.

A Las Vegas arrest

         
              
                     
                                        The Life and Trials of O.J. Simpson                                                                        
            
                SLIDESHOW: The life and trials of OJ Simpson             
        
    
    

In September 2007, Simpson led a group of men into a Las Vegas hotel and casino to steal what he claims was his own sports memorabilia at gunpoint.

Simpson was charged with a number of felony counts, including kidnapping and armed robbery.

A criminal conviction

In 2008, Simpson was found guilty in the botched robbery and sentenced to up to 33 years in prison.

PHOTO: OJ Simpson stands in court with attorney Yale Galanter during his sentencing at the Clark County Regional Justice Center, Dec. 5, 2008, in Las Vegas. Issac Brekken-Pool/AFP/Getty Images
OJ Simpson stands in court with attorney Yale Galanter during his sentencing at the Clark County Regional Justice Center, Dec. 5, 2008, in Las Vegas.

As Judge Jackie Glass prepared to sentence him, she said to Simpson, “Earlier in this case, at a bail hearing, I asked, I said, to Mr. Simpson, I didn’t know if he was arrogant or ignorant or both. And during the trial and through this proceeding, I got this answer, and it was both.”

Glass said of the crime, "That was not a, 'Oh, just give me my stuff back, I want my stuff.' That was, 'Nobody leave the room.' That was actually a very violent event. ... At least one gun was drawn. The potential for harm to occur in that room was tremendous. When you take a gun with you and you take men with you, to show, in a show of force, that's not just a, 'Hey, give me my stuff back.'

"I can't ignore that the behavior at the time on September 13 was reckless," she added. "The law was broken."

He apologized for his actions, saying, "I didn't know I was doing anything illegal. ... I'm sorry. ... I'm sorry for all of it."

In 2013, after several years behind bars, Simpson's bid for a new trial was rejected, but he was granted parole that same year on some of the charges, based on good behavior.

PHOTO: O.J. Simpson arrives at an evidentiary hearing in Clark County District Court, May 16, 2013, in Las Vegas. Steve Marcus/Getty Images
O.J. Simpson arrives at an evidentiary hearing in Clark County District Court, May 16, 2013, in Las Vegas.

Simpson was not released from prison at that time, since his prison sentences were set to run consecutively. He had to wait until this year to appear again before the parole board.

Simpson is granted parole

In July 2017, Simpson was granted parole, with an earliest possible release date of Oct. 1, 2017.

Before the decision was announced, Simpson gave his account of the botched robbery to the parole board, telling the board members how he learned that some "some guys" were trying to "fence" what he said were his personal mementos in Las Vegas.

"As a perfect storm we all ended up in Las Vegas, you know? I was there for a wedding and [was told that] the property was there."

He later continued, "I said, 'Of course I would like to get the property.' He told me the names of what he thought were the people in the room, and I realized these are friends of mine. You know? Actually guys who helped me move, helped me move and store some of this stuff."

Simpson explained, "When I came into the [hotel] room I noticed spread out everywhere was my personal property." "The only thing I saw that was on display that wasn't mine was some baseballs, and I made it clear to everybody those are not mine. All I want is my property. ... I wasn't there to steal from anybody."

PHOTO: In this July 20, 2017, file photo, former NFL football star O.J. Simpson enters for his parole hearing at the Lovelock Correctional Center in Lovelock, Nevada. Jason Bean/The Reno Gazette-Journal via AP
In this July 20, 2017, file photo, former NFL football star O.J. Simpson enters for his parole hearing at the Lovelock Correctional Center in Lovelock, Nevada.

"I would never, ever pull a weapon," he said.

Simpson added, "I haven't made any excuses in the nine years I've been here and not trying to make an excuses now."

When asked if he believed that the property was his, Simpson replied, "It's been ruled legally by the state of California that it was my property and they've given it to me."

Simpson also reassured the board he would be successful meeting the conditions of his parole, saying, "I'm not a guy who lived a criminal life."

Simpson said in his nine years behind bars, he's been "a good guy."

"I was always a good guy, but could have been a better Christian, and my commitment to change is to be a better Christian."

He said he took an "alternative to violence" course in prison, calling it "the most important course anybody in this prison can take because it teaches you how to deal with conflict through conversation."

"I had some problems with fidelity in my life, but I've always been a guy that pretty much got along with everybody," he said.

A free man

On Oct. 1, 2017, the 70-year-old walked out of the Lovelock Correctional Institute in Nevada under the cover of darkness, just after midnight on the first day he was eligible for release.

Simpson's attorney, Malcolm LaVergne, said his client, upon his release, "wants to enjoy the very simple pleasures that he hasn't enjoyed in nine years."

In a photo provided by the Nevada Department of Correction, Simpson is seen signing paperwork upon his release from prison Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017. Nevada Department of Correction
In a photo provided by the Nevada Department of Correction, Simpson is seen signing paperwork upon his release from prison Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017.

"He wants to eat seafood, he wants to eat steak," LaVergne said.

"He's going to get the latest iPhone," LaVergne said. "He wants to enjoy those very simple pleasures, and he wants to do that in Florida."

Tom Scotto, one of Simpson’s longtime friends, told ABC News, "All he wants to do is spend time with his family and friends and his kids. And play a little golf."

But Scotto added that Simpson won't be shying away from the public eye.

"We're not going to hide," Scotto said. "He's going to do the same things he always did."

ABC News' Sabina Ghebremedhin contributed to this report.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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