fter nearly nine years behind bars, “The Juice” is finally loose.
An emotional O.J. Simpson breathed a big sigh of relief on Thursday when a Nevada parole board unanimously granted his release from prison.
“Thank you,” a noticeably trim Simpson mouthed as he headed back to his cell at Lovelock Correctional Center in Nevada, where he’s served more than eight years of a 33-year maximum sentence after being convicted of armed robbery in 2008.
The Hall of Famer — whose reputation was destroyed when he was accused of murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her pal, Ron Goldman — will walk out of prison as early as Oct. 1.
Clad in a light blue denim shirt and dark jeans, Simpson earned a unanimous vote for parole by four parole commissioners who reached their decision after a 77-minute hearing in Carson City, Nevada.
“You organized this crime which two victims were robbed at gunpoint. It was a serious crime and there was no excuse for it. You deserved to be sent to prison,” one of the commissioners, Tony Corda, told him.
Corda noted, though, that Simpson has had no disciplinary record while locked up and was unlikely to commit future crimes.
“You have complied with the rules of the prison,” Corda said. “You have stable support and release plans.”
The former pro-football player — known as Inmate No. 1027820 — was convicted of leading a group of armed men into a Las Vegas casino hotel to rob two sports memorabilia dealers.
Simpson’s release wasn’t much of a surprise, as he’s been a model inmate during his stint in the clink, which is located less than 100 miles northeast of Reno.
His hearing began on a light note, with Connie Bisbee, one of the four parole commissioners, mistakenly saying, “We have that you recently turned 90 years old?”
The room burst into laughter and a stunned Simpson chuckled, exclaiming, “I feel like it!”
When asked what he was thinking when he led the armed crew into a cheap hotel room to steal a trove of sports memorabilia in September 2007, Simpson still insisted it was his to take.
“It’s kind of mind-boggling that they [the state of California] turned over to me my property that I’m in jail for trying to retrieve. It was my property — I would never try to steal from anybody,” he told the board during a rambling, unapologetic explanation for what happened that night.