From Rita Williams, Correspondent
It's the city where he was born, in San Francisco. And people say O.J. has never forgotten where he came from, and they're not going to forget him now.
A resident said, "We teach our kids that a man is innocent until proven guilty and we're taking that position. That Mr. Simpson has given us every indication that he would be anything but someone to be proud of we are not aware of at this time."
It was at Galileo High School where O.J. first tasted stardom. The school retired his jersey and inducted him into their Hall of Fame long before the NFL did. That's why people here are taking the news so hard.
Community members voice a common sentiment: "It's unimaginable, especially for someone with such a future." and "He was a positive role model (99k aiff) for everyone, very successful, very visible, very articulate. He was very good with the kids. It's very sad what's happening to him."
Simpson remained close to Galileo. He has sent his alma mater donations and he has come back as the commencement speaker. The football field is named in his honor. Though students today only know him through his movies and commercials, they say that he has shown them by example that they can be whatever they want to be.
O.J. Simpson grew up in the Petrero Housing projects raised by his mother Eunice. Simpson, later to break track and football records, was born with rickets. His legs bowed, he wore braces until the time he was 2 years old. But by the time he was in school, he was already showing athletic prowess. A mural at the Petrero Athletic Club where he used to play proudly features him.
Its athletic director said, "When he came back with his son Jason, he told him, 'This is where my roots are, and I don't forget'."
Friends point out that O.J.'s life hasn't always been a storybook. He and his first wife Marguerite, his high school sweetheart, lost their daughter in a drowning accident.
O.J. commented (154k aiff) on his daughter's death: "The people who helped us through this period all suggested that we get busy. Emotionally, it's not something that I know how long it will take me to get over, but I know I have to be busy."
He did keep busy and his athletic star soared. When O.J. was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1985, he credited his mom with his success and she responded with this now haunting statement: "I didn't really think he'd turn out the way he did, but he always said you'd read about him in the papers someday and my oldest daughter would always say: 'In the police report'."
Folks here warn not to jump to any conclusions. People here who know O.J. Simpson say that he went through a lot to get to where he is today, and they believe he will overcome this latest challenge, too.
Copyright © 1995 Cable
News Network, Inc.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.