Saturday, December 6, 2008

O.J. Simpson -The Lost Man

I remember watching him run for USC. I remember him winning the 1968 college Heisman Trophy. I recall broadcasters making a big deal about his given name, Orenthal. He was Orenthal James Simpson. I remember when his life appeared full of promise and when some of that promise was realized on the professional football field. He was known as OJ and as The Juice. His dreams came true. The American dream was realized. He suffered from rickets as a child and wore corrective leg braces until he was five years old. He grew to become an outstanding athlete with rapid acceleration and power and a household name as an NFL gridiron star? His career was made as a Buffalo Bill from 1969-1977 and finished with the San Francisco 49ers 1978-1978. He was the first NFL player to rush for more than 2,000 yards in one season and he did that in 1973, the year he was named NFL MVP, Offensive Player of the Year, Pro Bowl MVP and AP Male Athlete of the Year. He was six time Pro-Bowl and five time All-Pro.

He was a handsome man and parlayed his physical presence and prominence into an acting career doing endorsements and numerous movies.

He didn’t think he would reach retirement age within a Nevada Corrections facility. That is where he will be.

Why did his life unravel? How did he squander so much privilege? He reduced his life to rubble long before today. Like a solar flare the ironic justice of today’s sentence seared O.J’s freedom. The jury’s guilty verdict on October 3rd 2008 was the thirteenth anniversary to the day of his 1995 acquittal from a double murder charge of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. He cannot run any more.

Today he stood before the Judge Glass to receive a sentence for a guilty verdict on thirteen criminal charges. Today he is sixty-one years old. He will be seventy years of age when he becomes eligible for parole. If he is never paroled he will serve his full sentence of thirty-three years - if he doesn’t die in his cell. Before he dies there, he will do everything else in that cell. For at least these next nine years he will he will eat, urinate, read, write and sleep in a cell. I cannot imagine what it is like to wake up in a room in which you will remain for twenty-three hours. His celebrity becomes his burden to a degree greater than anything he experienced as a free man. He will be protected from the general prison population for his own safety. Access to an exercise area for 60 minutes per day will be the only change of scenery available to a man who had everything that liberty and affluence could afford.

I grieve for him because he is a lost man. In his speech before sentencing he told the judge he was confused. I believe him. He lost everything over the past fourty years even while he gained yards, admiration and money. Married to Marguerite Whitley in 1967 he divorced her in 1977 after having three children together, the youngest of whom drowned at age two in the backyard pool. He married Nicole Brown in 1985 and divorced her in 1992 after having two children. Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman were murdered on June 12, 1994. He has lost it all. Gaining the whole world and losing one’s soul comes to mind. Sometimes one loses both. Only God can save this man. Matthew 16:26 "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?" Luke 19:10 "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost."

Judge Glass's Sentence

1 comment:

  1. Sad. But True. There are some good lessons for us to learn from OJ's fall. Thanks for the good synopsis, Ron.