When O.J. Simpson walks out of the gates of Nevada’s Lovelock Correctional Center as a free man sometime in October, friends say he’ll be eager to make up for lost time.
“The first thing he’ll do is eat sushi and probably a steak,” his former manager Norman Pardo tells PEOPLE. “You can’t keep that guy away from sushi.”
Visibly older, grayer and heavier after nearly nine years behind bars, Simpson, now 70, smiled and joked when he appeared before the state’s parole board on Thursday — telling them just how sorry he was for committing the crime that landed him in prison: a 2007 armed robbery in Las Vegas.
“I’ve basically lived a conflict-free life,” Simpson told the four board members who voted unanimously to parole him. “I’ve done my time. I’ve done it as well and as respectfully as I think anyone can.”
The shocking irony of the disgraced football legend’s words — live-streamed and broadcast on TV — appeared lost on Simpson, who many believe is responsible for the 1994 grisly double-homicide of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. Though Simpson was acquitted of their murders in a historically publicized 1995 trial, he was found civilly liable for their deaths in 1997 and ordered to pay $33.5 million.
Exactly how Simpson will pass his time once he’s out of custody still isn’t clear. What’s certain is that he’ll be able to live comfortably off his NFL pension, which could total up to $25,000 a month and isn’t subject to seizure by creditors.
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Friends tell PEOPLE the father of four is also planning to head back to Florida, where he moved in the late 1990s, in part because a state law forbids one’s house from being seized to pay a civil judgment. Simpson’s two youngest children with Nicole — Sydney, 31, who owns several rental properties, and 28-year-old Justin, a real estate agent — live there as well.
Steve Wolfson, the district attorney in Nevada’s Clark County, says the state “isn’t heartbroken that he’s not going to stay here.”
Family members and the few friends Simpson still has all hope the celebrity inmate will be able to keep from violating the terms of his parole.
“He’s definitely learned his lesson,” says Pardo. “He fully understands what it means to be O.J. Simpson and that he’s a lightning rod for negativity. He knows he can’t even jaywalk or he’ll be back in trouble.”
What that ultimately means, Pardo adds, is that Simpson will likely have to maintain a quieter lifestyle in order to maintain his freedom.
“No more partying and drinking and strip clubs,” Pardo says. “He’ll play golf and hopefully do fruitful, mild-mannered things. He needs to settle down. He can still be a superstar, but he’s got to be a mild-mannered superstar from here on out.”
• With reporting by KC BAKER