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How the Crowd at the BET Awards Reacted to O.J. Simpson’s Inclusion During the In Memoriam Segment

O J Simpson Was Really Included in the BET Awards
Jason Bean-Pool/Getty Images

Perhaps the most controversial moment from Sunday night’s BET Awards came — against all odds — during the In Memoriam segment. 

The somber moment of reflection during the June 30 broadcast, which honored entertainers whose lives were lost in the last calendar year, surprised viewers with the inclusion of O.J. Simpson

When Simpson’s face was shown, attendees at the Peacock Theater in Los Angeles fell into a “noticeable silence,” according to The Hollywood Reporter

Shortly after, however, there was reportedly a “smattering of applause,” with one attendee saying there were “some titters among the crowd.”

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Actress Tia Mowry introduced the segment as a tribute to “the Black excellence that we unfortunately lost this year.”

“It’s never easy to say goodbye to those who influence us,” Mowry, 45, said, “but we can take a moment to celebrate and acknowledge their contributions to the culture.”

Described as a “former NFL player” on the broadcast, Simpson died of prostate cancer in April at the age of 76. 

Simpson was infamously accused of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, leading to 1995’s Trial of the Century. Simpson was ultimately acquitted but later found responsible for both deaths in a 1997 civil trial. 

The inclusion of Simpson drew the ire of Goldman’s father Fred Goldman, who told TMZ, “I think they shouldn’t include anyone of that caliber a wife beater, murderer … can’t imagine why they would include someone like that.”

It was a similar sentiment shared by Tanya Brown, the youngest sister of Nicole. “Whoever thought of doing that owes every domestic violence victim an apology,” Tanya told TMZ, “and that’s including our family. And, they should be fired.”

Simpson was also a star football player at USC and with the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, later transitioning to a successful acting career in movies and television. Most notably, Simpson played Detective Nordberg in the Naked Gun film franchise. 

The In Memoriam segment also paid tribute to late public figures like Carl Weathers, Richard Roundtree, Ron Cephas Jones, Louis Gossett Jr., civil rights activist Dexter Scott King and baseball player Willie Mays

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After Simpson’s face was splashed across TV screens, those watching at home had a field day on social media. 

“lol OJ Simpson in memoriam for anything is WILD no matter how you slice it,” one viewer wrote via X. Another shared, “Ngl.. I nearly changed the channel once OJ Simpson popped up on the screen during that in memoriam at the Bet Awards 2024. Like no…. He should have been excluded.”

Not everybody was throwing shade BET’s way, however. 

After the segment, one X user wrote, “Shout out to BET for not being afraid to put OJ Simpson in the rest in peace tribute 😂😂😂.”

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