Tuesday, March 29, 2005 Posted: 7:07 PM EST (0007 GMT)
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Famed attorney Johnnie Cochran, 67, perhaps best known for his defense of O.J. Simpson, died Tuesday at his home in Los Angeles.
"Johnnie Cochran was a loving, heartful human being who cared about everybody," said Pastor William Epps of the Second Baptist Church in Los Angeles, which Cochran attended for 18 years.
Cochran had been in a hospice suffering from a neurological problem, Epps said.
Simpson told CNN: "I loved him as a good Christian man. I look at Johnny as a great Christian. I knew him as that. He was a great guy."
Simpson said he last saw Cochran at an L.A. Lakers basketball game a few months ago and found the flamboyant lawyer to be in good spirits. "We were praying for him then, and I still am," Simpson said.
Simpson added that he knew Cochran long before he hired the African-American lawyer to lead his 'Dream Team' defense. "I was in social circles with Johnnie and we knew each other in that way," he said.
In 1994, Simpson was accused of killing his second former wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her boyfriend Ron Goldman.
As Simpson's lawyer, Cochran famously quipped, "If the glove doesn't fit, you must acquit," when Simpson tried to -- but couldn't -- fit his hands inside the killer's gloves.
Cochran's successful defense led to Simpson's acquittal.
Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. was born in Shreveport, Louisiana on October 2, 1937, the great-grandson of a slave.
He grew up in Los Angeles, went to UCLA for college and received his law degree from Loyola Marymount University. He passed the California bar in 1963, took a job in Los Angeles as a deputy city attorney in the criminal division.
Two years later, he entered private practice and soon opened his own firm, Cochran, Atkins & Evans. By the late 1970s, he had made his name in the black community, and was litigating a number of high-profile police brutality and criminal cases. In 1978, he joined the Los Angeles County district attorney's office, but returned to private practice five years later.
The People v. O.J. Simpson brought Cochran worldwide fame, but while he went on to defend other celebrities he would also accept less high-profile names, particularly when alleged police misconduct was involved.