The Tragic Truth About O.J. Simpson's Kids Sydney And Justin

Justin Ryan Simpson and Sydney Brooke Simpson were only 5 and 8 years old respectively, when their famous father, O.J. Simpson, stood trial for the gruesome murders of their mother, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman. In the end, O.J. was acquitted of all charges in October 1995. "My first obligation is to my young children, who will be raised the way that Nicole and I had always planned," O.J. said in a post-verdict statement delivered by Jason Simpson, his son from a previous marriage (via AP News).

Now, on the heels of O.J. Simpson's death, many are taking a look back at all of the trauma his youngest children, Sydney and Justin, have endured over the years. "It brings back all the pain — the memories that they all went through. That was a tragic time," Justin's godfather, Dave Brobeck, told NBC 4 Los Angeles. "These kids survived well." Still, there's no doubt that the grievous loss of their mother at such a young age, coupled with the publicity of their father's "trial of the century" and now, his death, has undoubtedly impacted them in many ways.

Sydney and Justin Simpson were held at a police station for hours after their mother's murder

On June 13, 1994, Sydney and Justin Simpson were sleeping peacefully upstairs in their beds when their mother, Nicole Brown Simpson, was found brutally stabbed to death at the front door of their Brentwood home. According to a police report obtained by Newsday (via The Seattle Times), as the children were whisked away from the crime scene through a back entrance and taken to the West Los Angeles police station, they continued to ask various police officials, "Where's mommy?" Upon arriving at the police station at 1:25 a.m., the children continued to cry and demanded to know their mother's whereabouts. At one point, while at the police station, Sydney turned to her younger brother and said, "Justin, you know something happened to Mommy, or she would have come for us by now." 

The New York Daily News (via The Seattle Times) also reported that Sydney left her mother many distraught voicemails in the wee hours of the morning while at the station, pleading to know where she was and what happened. As documented in the report, the children were finally picked up at the police station by Arnelle Simpson, their older sister from O.J.'s previous marriage, at 6:30 a.m. 

Shortly after Sydney and Justin's mother was murdered, O.J. Simpson went to jail

Sadly, the days after the horrific murder of their beloved mother proved to be just as traumatic for Sydney and Justin Simpson. On June 17, 1994, the day after Nicole Brown Simpson's funeral, O.J. Simpson was formally charged with the murder of Nicole and her friend Ron Goldman. Instead of turning himself in, however, O.J. embarked on a low-speed police chase for nearly 50 miles before ultimately being arrested at his home. Prior to the chase, O.J. left behind what many believed was a suicide note. In the note, he maintained his innocence, professed his love for Nicole, and begged that the public leave his children alone. "Please, please, please, leave my children in peace. Their lives will be tough enough," he penned before signing off with a smiley face in the "O."

Following their mother's murder, Sydney and Justin resided under the care of their maternal grandparents, Louis H. Brown and Juditha Brown. According to Clifford L. Linedecker, the author of "O.J. A to Z: The Complete Handbook to the Trial of the Century," Sydney and Justin were told that their father was busy assisting the police.

Sydney and Justin Simpson's maternal grandparents tried to shield them from the murder trial

On January 24, 1995, the O.J. Simpson double murder trial began, and all of the dark details about O.J. and Nicole Brown Simpson's relationship suddenly came to light. Fortunately, Sydney and Justin Simpson were absent from all court proceedings. When asked during an interview with ABC News what the children knew about the trial, Nicole's friend Kris Jenner said she didn't know. "I don't think they know too much about what happens in day-to-day courtroom because I know the Browns make a real effort to keep that out of their house," Kris Jenner said.

But on October 3, 1995, the Browns had no choice but to tell their grandchildren that their father had been released from prison following his high-profile acquittal. "Yes. We told them. Told them, 'Daddy's free," Juditha Brown recounted during an interview with Diane Sawyer. "They were happy ... They love Daddy. We have never said anything negative to them about Daddy," she added.

Newsweek reported that following O.J.'s release from prison, he had a driver stop by Baskin-Robbins for cookie dough ice cream for Sydney and Justin. Upon reunification at his Brentwood estate, O.J. reportedly told his children, "We're going to be okay. Our family is together," before working on homework and retiring to bed.

Sydney and Justin Simpson were the subjects of a long custody battle

Unfortunately, Sydney and Justin Simpson's reunification with their famous father was anything but straightforward. In November 1996, Newsweek reported that Louis Brown was dropped as Sydney and Justin's guardian, leaving Juditha Brown as their sole guardian. Sources told the publication that the judge pointed to Louis selling Nicole's personal artifacts, including videos, photos, and even diary entries, as a conflict of interest.

Then, on December 21, 1996, O.J. Simpson was awarded full custody. "We are all so very grateful to have the children home again where they want to be," O.J. declared in what he said would be his only statement regarding his children and their custody arrangement. "We would like to thank Lou and Juditha Brown for doing the best they could during a very difficult time and fully expect them to continue as active grandparents," he added. In turn, the Browns appealed, and the custody case started all over again in Orange County. The custody case dragged on for nearly five more years.

By 2000, however, it appeared that all parties had finally reached an agreement. While Juditha still retained legal guardianship of the children, it had been decided and agreed upon that O.J. would be taking the kids to South Florida. "The children said to their grandmother, 'I want to be with my father," a spokesperson for O.J. told CBS News. "It signals a truce for the time being."

Sydney Simpson was arrested in Florida

Alas, it wasn't all sunshine in the Sunshine State — at least not for Sydney Simpson. In 2003, The Miami Herald reported that Sydney called 911, referred to her father as an a**hole, and asked the dispatcher what constituted abuse. Officials were promptly sent to the home where Sydney claimed that she and O.J. Simpson had "got into an argument over family issues." The officers found no signs of violence, and it's reported that Sydney left the residence until things had calmed down. 

Then, in January 2005, 19-year-old Sydney was arrested in Florida and charged with resisting arrest without violence after her involvement in a fight following a preparatory school basketball game. According to a police report obtained by NBC News, Sydney cursed at the officers and even struck one on the hand as he tried to arrest her. The report also noted that two witnesses claimed that Sydney struck them in the face, but they refused to press charges. 

Still, family members are adamant that Sydney and Justin have grown into happy, thriving adults. "They both went to good, great colleges and graduated, and they've got a good life," Justin's godfather, David Brobeck, told People in April. "They've grown up, and they have their own families now, and they're doing really well. They're solid people and parents."