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O.J. Simpson will be cremated; estate executor says ‘hard no’ to controversial ex-athlete’s brain being studied for CTE

O.J. Simpson will be cremated; estate executor says ‘hard no’ to controversial ex-athlete’s brain being studied for CTE

A lawyer who represented O.J. Simpson, who died from cancer last week at 76, said Sunday that the former NFL star’s body will be cremated in the coming days, and there are no plans to have his brain donated to science.

“On at least one occasion, someone has called saying he’s a CTE guy who studies the brain,” said attorney Malcolm LaVergne, referring to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease that has been studied in former football players and is associated with behavioral and cognitive issues related to repeated head injuries.

“That’s a hard no,” LaVergne added. “His entire body, including his brain, will be cremated.”

News of the cremation and the request to study his brain was first reported by the New York Post.

LaVergne, who is now serving as the executor of Simpson’s estate, said there are tentative plans for a “celebration of life” gathering limited to close friends and family. Simpson had three children with his first wife, Marguerite Whitley, and two children with his second wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, whom he divorced in 1992. In 1995, Simpson was famously acquitted in the murder of Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.

LaVergne on Sunday also clarified comments made to the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Friday in which he said he didn’t want Goldman’s family to be able to collect any money from Simpson’s estate and it was “my hope that the Goldmans get zero, nothing.”

He said he was referring to a debt collection lawyer working with the Goldman family who, “within an hour we announced Simpson’s death, is bashing Simpson and all this stuff, ‘We’re going to do this and that.’”

“In hindsight, in response to that statement that ‘it’s my hope they get zero, nothing,’ I think that was pretty harsh,” LaVergne added. “Now that I understand my role as the executor and the personal representative, it’s time to tone down the rhetoric and really get down to what my role is as a personal representative.”

As he works to calculate the worth of Simpson’s estate and take inventory of his assets and belongings, LaVergne said he would invite a legal representative of the Goldmans to review his findings.

“We can get this thing resolved in a calm and dispassionate manner,” LaVergne said.

Following Simpson’s death, Goldman’s father, Fred Goldman, expressed no sympathy for the fallen Hall of Fame icon turned Hollywood pitchman, telling NBC News that “it’s no great loss to the world. It’s a further reminder of Ron’s being gone.”Simpson, who long maintained his innocence in the deaths of Brown Simpson and Goldman, died without having paid off most of a $33.5 million wrongful death judgment awarded in 1997 in a lawsuit filed by the victims’ families.

LaVergne said he welcomes Fred Goldman and his lawyer, David Cook, trying to ascertain any other financial assets, but with Simpson’s death, the estate must distribute money to creditors who have claims “according to priority.”

“Goldman and the other creditors for decades now have played, ‘Hey, if I get to find something of Simpson’s first, I get it or I get most of it,’” LaVergne said.

“But keep in mind, if he finds $1 million, he no longer gets to keep that $1 million,” he added. “The $1 million is going to come into the estate first, and then we see where the priorities are, and then he gets to keep it because he’s No. 8 on the list” of priorities.

LaVergne has said among Simpson’s debts is money owed to the Internal Revenue Service. In the wake of the lawsuit against him three decades ago, many of Simpson’s possessions, including footballs, jerseys and other sports memorabilia, were seized from his Brentwood estate in California to pay off the judgment. Simpson was living in Las Vegas before his death.

Cook said Sunday that there will be intense interest from lawyers for various parties seeking restitution as Simpson’s finances are laid bare.

But “everybody knows when O.J. left, he left without penance,” Cook said.

Goldman and Cook have said the litigation against Simpson was not about the money but seeking justice after his acquittal.

“It’s holding the man who killed my son and Nicole responsible,” Fred Goldman said in a previous statement after winning his civil trial.

Simpson’s will asks that LaVergne also set aside money for a “suitable monument” at his gravesite. It also says that Simpson wants the document to be administered “without litigation or dispute,” and if any beneficiary or heir fails to follow that dictate, they “shall receive, free of trust, one dollar ($1.00) and no more in lieu of any claimed interest in this will or its assets.”

Erik Ortiz

Erik Ortiz is a senior reporter for NBC News Digital focusing on racial injustice and social inequality.

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