O.J. Simpson says he wishes he had 'been a better Christian' as he's granted parole

O.J. Simpson has served nine years of a 33-year prison sentence for armed robbery and kidnapping(Photo: Reuters)

A Nevada parole board decided on Thursday to release O.J. Simpson from prison nine years into a 33-year sentence for armed robbery and assault. 

The one-time NFL star will soon walk out of the Lovelock Correctional Center a free man after being granted early release by the parole board. 

In his plea for freedom, made via video link, Simpson claimed that he had not had a drink in nine years and had lived a 'conflict-free life'.

According to The Atlantic, the 70-year-old expressed regret for his actions during his appearance before the four-member board.

Asked by one board member whether he had been 'humbled' by his incarceration, he replied: 'I wish this never would have happened.'  He added, 'I am sorry that things turned out the way they did.'

According to CBN, Simpson also professed his Christian faith during the hearing.

'I was always a good guy, but I could have been a better Christian,' he said.

Simpson was a household name for his football career and various acting roles when in 1994 he became the subject of intense international media scrutiny after his arrest following the murder of wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman.  In a sensational turnaround, he was found not guilty after a trial lasting nearly a year, often dubbed 'The Trial of the Century'.   

He remained largely out of the headlines until his arrest over his involvement in the armed robbery of two sports memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas hotel room in 2007. He insisted again during his video link with the parole board on Thursday that the items he took belonged to him and he was unaware some of the men with him at the time were armed with guns. 

He becomes eligible for parole on October 1, the soonest he can leave prison.