O.J. Simpson was granted parole this week after serving the minimum nine years of a 33-year sentence stemming from a 2008 armed-robbery conviction in Nevada. The former football star could be released as early as Oct. 1, and yesterday’s news pulled many of the familiar characters from O.J.’s orbit back into the news, one of whom spoke exclusively with Chris Schmidt of Hail Varsity Radio.
Mike Gilbert was associated with Simpson for nearly 20 years, serving as his agent for a time and authoring the 2008 book, How I Helped O.J. Get Away with Murder: The Shocking Inside Story of Violence, Loyalty, Regret and Remorse. Gilbert was also featured extensively in ESPN’s 2016 documentary, O.J.: Made in America, but told Hail Varsity he has yet to watch the Academy Award-winning film.
He did, however, tune in to Simpson’s parole hearing on Thursday.
“I had one question,” Gilbert said. “I wanted to know if in nine years O.J. had learned anything, if he had learned to accept responsibility, not to blame people and so on and so forth. I thought that the answer would be absolutely ‘Yes.’”
That wasn’t the impression Gilbert was left with after watching the hearing.
“It didn’t take me very long to get the answer to that question and it was shocking,” he said. “O.J. has learned absolutely nothing. He hasn’t changed. He’s the same person that he was nine years ago.”
Gilbert, who admits to possessing some of the memorabilia Simpson set out to retrieve during the night of his arrest, said parts of Simpson’s remarks at the hearing, in particular Simpson’s assertion that he has lived a “conflict-free life,” led him to that conclusion.
“I realized that O.J. loves one person, and that’s O.J,” Gilbert said. “He was always extremely kind, generous and giving, but when it comes down to it, it’s O.J. If he were on the Titanic and it was going down, he might throw you a life preserver if he had four or five as backups for himself.”
And that gives Gilbert pause when considering Simpson’s prospects following release.
“I don’t think he can stay out of trouble because of the environment he puts himself into,” Gilbert said.
To hear the full interview with Gilbert, including when and why his relationship with Simpson soured and whether he’ll reach out to him after his release, check out the complete episode of the Hail Varsity Radio Show.