What O.J. Simpson Told His Longtime Friend Almost 2 Weeks Before His Death

When former NFL star and accused murderer O.J. Simpson died on April 10, 2024, public responses ran the gamut from mournful to gleeful. His family shared the news on X, saying he was "surrounded by his children and grandchildren" and asked the public to "please respect their wishes for privacy and grace," yet comments were blocked for most users. Meanwhile, individuals like Caitlyn Jenner wrote on their own X accounts "Good Riddance," and Marc Lamont Hill also wrote on X, "O.J. Simpson was an abusive liar who abandoned his community long before he killed two people in cold blood." 

In the midst of such feelings, and taking Simpson's infamous 1990s murder trial into account, it can be hard to view Simpson as a person like any other. But he did have friends and did hang out with his family in places like Las Vegas, and did suffer because of his prostate cancer. The same month that he and his family went to Las Vegas — February — he showed up on X refuting rumors that he'd be heading into hospice. At the same time, he had to cancel professional engagements because of his symptoms.

As Simpson's friend Bruce Fromong told People, Simpson was scheduled to do a memorabilia signing for PSA-JSA about 10 days before he died. Simpson canceled, however, saying, "Nah, I just give me a little bit of time. Let me get to feeling better." A little more than a week later, Fromong reached out via text saying, "Hey old buddy, hope you get to feeling better, and we'll talk soon." Simpson died the following day.

Simpson kept the severity of his symptoms to himself

By all accounts, O.J. Simpson's health was in decline for some years, although he kept the severity of his cancer diagnosis to himself. Owner of Las Vegas' Grape Street Cafe, Wine Bar & Cellar, John McKibben, said that Simpson wasn't himself the last time he stopped by. Simpson's "physical well-being was not the norm," People quotes McKibben. Come early March, Simpson walked with a cane and kept his typical drinking, eating, and chatting to a minimum. McKibben, like others, knew nothing about Simpson's diagnosis. "He could have had it for a year," he says on People, "I have no idea."

In other words, whether out of a sense of pride, privacy, or something else, Simpson wasn't very open about his physical well-being, his symptoms, his state of mind, and so forth. It stands to reason that if he started canceling appointments towards the end of his life, as he did with friend and colleague Bruce Fromong, he must have been pushed to the limits. Fromong didn't know about Simpson's diagnosis, either, but he knew that Simpson's understated, "Let me get to feeling better" meant that Simpson was feeling far worse than he'd let on. And yet, Fromong just thought that Simpson had the flu or something. "We thought he was getting better, and he was not," Page Six quotes Fromong. Fromong even said that the last time he saw Simpson at the Aliante Golf Club some months earlier he appeared totally fine.

Former robbery victim turned friend

To add another layer of interest to this story, O.J. Simpson went to prison in 2007 for robbing his future friend, Bruce Fromong. Fromong is a sports memorabilia dealer, and Simpson stole "hundreds" of memorabilia items from him and another person, Alfred Beardsley. The truth of the tale is complicated, but according to Beardsley on Courthouse News Service, Simpson allegedly got duped by a conman named Thomas Riccio to rob him and Fromong at gunpoint. And both Fomong and Beardsley, interestingly and generously enough, didn't seem to harbor any ill will towards Simpson whatsoever.    

Per the Reno Gazette-Journal, Fromong was arguably the most integral person responsible for getting Simpson out of prison after nine years rather than 33 years for the robbery. "I don't feel that he's a threat to anyone out there," Fromong said. "He's a good man. I know that he does a lot for other people, and I feel that nine and a half to 33 years was way too long, and I feel that it's time to give him a second chance." Simpson was released in October 2017. If not for Fromong's testimony, Simpson might have died from prostate cancer while behind bars.

In the years following Simpson's release, Fromong and Simpson must have developed a fairly good friendship.  Fromong told People that he will "absolutely" miss Simpson. "It's the end of a long friendship," he said. "I will always be a friend that will think about him."