O.J. Simpson was released from a Nevada correctional facility early Sunday morning after serving a nine-year prison sentence.
The former football star, who was sentenced to 33 years at the Lovelock Correctional Center after being convicted of kidnapping and armed robbery charges in 2008, was granted parole in July.
“I told him, ‘don’t ‘come back,’ and he responded, ‘I don’t intend to, ‘” Nevada Department of Corrections spokeswoman Brooke Keast told CNN. “He was upbeat, personable and seemed happy to get on with his life.”
Keast added that Simpson packed up four boxes of prison possessions, signed some paperwork and met with his new parole officer before an unidentified friend picked up Simpson just after midnight.
The Nevada parole board ruled that Simpson could leave prison as early as October 1st; however, due to the anticipated media frenzy surrounding his release, Simpson’s official release date was not formally announced by prison officials.
“Our biggest concern was our safety and the public’s safety and not wanting anybody, paparazzi, to follow him,” Keast said. “He left through a big blue door through the front gatehouse and exited quietly. He looked down because he didn’t want to be photographed.”
“October 1st falls on a Sunday and except for essential workers, I think it’s going to be highly unlikely that the Nevada Department of Corrections is going to have any type of resources to be able to transport Mr. Simpson anywhere,” Simpson’s lawyer Malcolm LaVergne previously told ABC News. “Mr. Simpson’s making arrangements. He has to go through the Nevada Department of Corrections, the Nevada Department of Parole and Probation and at some point very soon he will eventually have his release plans and he will be able to get out.”
Despite the staffing concerns, Simpson still left prison minutes into October 1st.
“He’s not going to hide,” Simpson’s longtime friend Tom Scotto told CNN of Simpson’s post-prison life. “He’s going to focus on kids, friends, his family and golf. Maybe not the first day or second, but he is going to go out.” LaVergne added that Simpson “is going to get the latest iPhone.”
LaVergne also said that Simpson “wants to go to Florida, he wants to see his family and hug his family on the outside of prison… So he wants to enjoy those very simple pleasures, and he wants to do that in Florida.”
However, on Friday, Florida district attorney Pam Bondi issued an objection to Nevada authorities about the prospect of Simpson serving his parole in the Sunshine State.
“Floridians are well aware of Mr. Simpson’s background, his wanton disregard for the lives of others, and of his scofflaw attitude with respect to the heinous acts for which he has been found civilly liable,” Bondi wrote. “The specter of his residing in comfort in Florida should not be an option … Our state should not become a country club for this convicted criminal.”
CNN reports that Simpson’s pensions from the Screen Actors Guild, the NFL and social security – “retirement incomes” that are protected by federal law – should keep him afloat financially. Florida would also provide Simpson with certain protections – like home ownership and other assets – if he fails to pay the remaining money owed on the $33 million lawsuit awarded to the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.
As of Friday, Florida corrections officials had not received a parole transfer request for Simpson.
At Simpson’s July parole hearing, the former Heisman Trophy winner apologized for the botched 2007 robbery that resulted in his conviction. “I’m sorry it happened, I’m sorry to Nevada,” Simpson said. “I thought I was glad to get my stuff back, but it wasn’t worth it. Nine years away from your family is just not worth it.”