He once drew the spotlight because he sought it. He bathed in it because he loved it. He chased the spotlight until it finally chased him back.
O.J. Simpson, the polarizing former football star, seemed to suggest he was ready to recede from the spotlight after succeeding in his quest for freedom after being incarcerated for nine years at a desert prison in northern Nevada.
Simpson, convicted of robbery and kidnapping, was granted parole Thursday — a unanimous vote by the four-member Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners reported instantly by national and international media. He could be free as soon as Oct. 1.
His release, too, is unlikely to go unnoticed. The moment Simpson received his fourth and final vote from the Nevada Board of Parole recommending release, he dropped his head, as if to give a quiet cheer of celebration to himself, before responding, “Thank you.”
He didn’t look at his attorney or his daughter Arnelle Simpson, who had argued for his release. Simpson, 70, instead bowed his head again and placed his hands on the simple wooden table, as if in prayer as, once again, his every movement was broadcast to millions of people on national television who were curious to learn his fate.
The board asked him about life outside prison. What might it be like? Can you handle it? The former USC and NFL star running back shrugged it off like a tackler who had taken a bad angle on him. “I’ve been recognized since I was 19,” he said. “I’ve dealt with it my whole life.”
Simpson told the board he wanted to be with his family after missing birthdays and graduations. When it was suggested he might have a webcast or blog once he’s out, he shook his head. Not interested.
But there was immense interest in him. Television trucks squeezed into a tight parking lot where the board met in a building in a light industrial park in Carson City. More were encamped about 100 miles northeast outside Lovelock Correctional Facility — accessible on a skinny road that had a checkpoint and a sign noting a “special event.”