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O. J. Simpson

In 1947 San Francisco’s Potrero Hill was not only a poor South City neighborhood, it was a real ghetto. That year was the year Oren was born. Rickets, a poverty-related disease actually caused by malnutrition, was Oren’s major problem. His vitamin-mineral deficient diet caused his bones to soften. His legs began to bow under the weight of his growing body.

Even though the family was too poor to afford braces, Oren’s mom refused to sit back, sigh, and resign herself to the inevitable. She rolled up her sleeves and took charge. She rigged up a homemade contraption in hopes of correcting her son’s pigeon-toed, bowlegged condition. How? By reversing his shoes! Right shoe, left foot; left shoe, right foot; plus an improvised metal bar across the shoe tops to keep his feet pointing straight. It didn’t work perfectly, but it was good enough to keep the boy on his feet and ultimately able to play with his buddies.

By the time he was about six years of age, his bones had hardened, his legs were still slightly bowed, his calves were unusually thin, and his head was disproportionately large. Nicknames from other kids followed him around: “Pencil-legs,” “Waterhead”; but he refused to let all that hold him back. He compensated by acting tough. Street gangs on Potrero Hill were common: the Gladiators, Sheiks, Roman Gents, Persian Warriors. By age thirteen Oren had fought and won his way to being president of the Gladiators. For all the fighting, he was arrested only three times; that was the crowning achievement of his early youth.

Those who don’t know his background could easily think he got all the breaks. As they look at him today and see this fine and refined gentleman, they would assume he’s always been wealthy. He lives in the exclusive Brentwood district of Los Angeles, drives a luxurious car, and has his elegant office in an elite bank building. He is now a busy executive with his own production company. He personally handles most of his own financial affairs and business negotiations. He has contracts with the media and various entertainment firms and agencies.

In today’s terms, Oren has it made. That plush office with the name on the door belongs to Orenthal James Simpson. Yes, none other than “the Juice,” O.J. Simpson.

Charles Swindoll, Living Above the Level of Mediocrity, pp. 17-18

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