After becoming a superstar at the University of Southern California and winning the Heisman Trophy, Orenthal “O.J.” Simpson went on to set records in the NFL and become immensely popular in the Brentwood, Los Angeles, social circle.
In 1994, he was charged with the murder of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ron Goldman, but he was acquitted after a lengthy and public trial in 1995. Two years later, he was found liable for their wrongful deaths in civil court, and according to Biography.com, ordered to pay a whopping $33.5 million in damages.
Fast forward to 2008, and Simpson was once again back in the spotlight when he was convicted of armed robbery after he led a group of men into a Las Vegas hotel to steal sports memorabilia he claimed belonged to him.
In July, the former football star went before the parole board, and after being called a “model inmate,” it was decided he would be released. On Sunday, he walked out of prison, a free man.
The earliest he could have been released was October 1, and according to ABC News, the court wasted no time in granting him his freedom, as he walked out of prison at 12:08 a.m:
Brooke Keast, a spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Corrections, explained to CNN that he was released under the cover of darkness in an attempt to ensure everyone’s safety.
“He left through a big blue door through the front gatehouse and exited quietly. He looked down because he didn’t want to be photographed,” she said.
Ahead of his release, Simpson’s attorney, Malcolm LaVergne, told ABC News that his client is looking forward to eating “seafood” and “steak.”
“He wants to enjoy the very simple pleasures that he hasn’t enjoyed in nine years,” LaVergne added.
Simpson’s friend, Tom Scotto, told ABC News that Simpson has no plans of hiding from the public and will spend time with family and friends and “play a little golf.” LaVergne revealed he hopes to go to Florida, where two of his kids live, but according to CNN, he’ll live in a gated community in Las Vegas for the meantime.
“I told him, ‘Don’t come back,’” Keast told CNN. “And he responded, ‘I don’t intend to.’ He was upbeat, personable and seemed happy to get on with his life.”
ESPN reported that his $33.5 million judgment has climbed to $65 million after factoring in interest and court costs. According to ABC News, Goldman’s father, Fred, and sister, Kim, plan on pursuing the judgment they were awarded and continuing to raise awareness for domestic violence, victim advocacy, and judicial reform.
“While we respect the Nevada Parole Board’s decision to release Simpson, it’s still difficult for us knowing he will be a free man again,” the Goldmans said in a statement, according to ABC News.
Simpson reportedly earned $600,000 from his NFL pension while he was incarcerated, which federal law protects from lawsuits and will remain his to keep.