From the time he broke into college ball at USC, to the shocking way he left the national stage, O.J. Simpson was always larger than life.
The creation of his bust is physical evidence — pardon the expression — of that very fact.
Twenty years ago, I was still carrying a standard-size, nine-inch head into my final posing sessions. To that point, I had never run into a serious logistical problem. And then I walked into Simpson's Brentwood house — long before it became associated with that infamous crime — and realized immediately that I had a lot of work to do.
My caliper measurements confirmed my fears: O.J.'s head, in comparison to the rest of his body, was enormous. So instead of working on the nuances of expression, I found myself hurriedly adding clay to the head, and then more clay. Nearly the entire posing session was consumed by adding several inches all the way around.
O.J., who finished his career with 11,236 yards rushing — 2,003 of them coming in the 1973 season alone — was a genial host. A stream of people flowed through the home, including former teammates Reggie McKenzie and Bob Chandler, as well as his wife Nicole, her sister Denise, his children from his previous marriage and his parents.
Yes, the cast of characters that everyone came to know 10 years later.
Nicole Brown Simpson, who had married Simpson earlier that year, was pregnant with her first child at the time of the posing session. A decade later, in 1994, she was murdered, and Simpson was charged with the crime.
I remember my time with Simpson fondly — he was an absolute kick to be around — and I watched the trial with mixed emotions.
I was never happy with the likeness of Simpson, and before the Hall of Fame's Class of 1985 was introduced I petitioned the directors to send me to Hawaii to make accurate measurements. They declined, but I decided to go at my own expense — something I do to this day. The whole process can take anywhere from a week to several months depending on the subject and our collaborative process, but with the honorees who are still alive, it always starts in Hawaii.
O.J. — that's one I'd like another chance to do.