Like many kids growing up at the time, Mike Gilbert idolized O..J. Simpson for his athletic prowess. More than idolizing him, he, like many other young boys, wanted to actually *be* O.J. Simpson. He used magic marker to mark O.J. Simpson's number on his T-shirt. Whenever he played football, he wanted to be O.J. Simpson. And even if he couldn't be him, he wanted to meet him.
Eventually, he got his wish. after he'd become a sports manager and represented Marcus Allen, one of O.J.'s best friends, someone O.J. Considered a mentor. Eventually, O.J. ended up marrying Nicole Brown, and Mike Gilbert never liked her. She distracted O.J. from his responsibilities. And while he now realizes that he did her a disservice by always accepting O.J.'s explanations for their spats and never looking beyond those explanations to see what was really happening in their relationship.
And then, after she and O.J. separated, it all went so quickly downhill. When Gilbert heard that Nicole Simpson Brown was dead, the first thing that came out of his mouth was, "So, he finally did it." He couldn't explain what he meant, even to his wife, but he was shaken and stunned. The trip home turned into a media circus, thanks to the "Slow Chase" O.J. led police on in Al Cowlings' White Bronco.
After that, Mike Gilbert still supported O.J. He told him to stop taking his arthritis medication so that his hands swelled up before he tried on the Bloody glove at the trial, making it not fit. And afterwards, he still supported O.J., even when both of them were roundly hated. Death threats appeared on his answering machine. And O.J. still thought that if he could just speak to the fans, they'd love him again like they had before. But, that was not to be.
After that, the end came- not quickly, but it came. And still Mike Gilbert was there to help O.J. hide his stuff from creditors when he lost the civil case, perjuring himself for his client. But once O.J. was no longer the golden boy, he reverted to stupid frat-boyish ways that caused even Mike Gilbert, tireless helper of and believer in O.J. Simpson, to change his mind about him. To see behind the facade of the idol he'd always admired to the real man within. And Mike Gilbert didn't like what he saw. But before they parted for good, Mike Gilbert got the truth of the murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman from O.J. himself.
O.J.'s life could have been so much, but it ended up as a tragedy because of who O.J. was on the inside, away from the Golden Boy image. And Mike Gilbert, who once cordially despised Nicole Brown for who she was and how she treated him, has now come to understand her much better, and sympathize with her. When she refused to let O.J. go to a speaking engagement on behalf of a group of battered women, was she really exercising her power over O.J., or did she find it abominable for him to be so hypocritical as to do the talk when he was battering her, his own wife?
Most people won't be surprised at all that O.J, was guilty of the crime. If you weren't convinced by the evidence presented in the criminal case, perhaps it was when he vowed to track down Nicole and Ron's real killers, and did exactly- nothing. The fact that you come out of this book understanding why O.J, fell from that high perch doesn't make what he did any less horrible or disgusting, and I have a hard time understanding why Mike Gilbert protected O.J. for so long. What did he think was going to happen when and if O.J. got off?
Parts of the book, while horrible and disgusting, were also fascinating. O.J. wasn't just sitting around in jail- be was signing all sorts of things to be sold as memorabilia with that extra cachet of having signed it when he was in jail, which would make it worth more money. My stomach turned at that sort of cold-blooded grasping at money- but there are places elsewhere that are equally horrifying- for many different reasons. If you decide to read this book, you'll get to understand the sort of sick worldview that O.J. and Mike Gilbert shared.
I'm not sure if I even believe that Mike Gilbert really no longer feels the same at that this book isn't just some sort of cynical grab at money- to tell the story of a man he was friends with and ultimately rejected. I do recommend it for giving us another piece of the whole story. One which we already know generally, but here gives specifics. Recommended, even if it does turn the stomach,