A handsome lightweight with hazy ambitions

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When Ronald Goldman appeared on the TV dating show Studs in 1991, he wrote this description of himself: "Outgoing, cocky, adventurous, relaxed and athletic." Asked by the host to rate himself on a scale of one to ten, he held up his hand and said: "I'm way up here. There really isn't a scale for me."

Kato Kaelin, Simpson's house guest, was described as America's pet Californian after his dreamy appearances on the witness stand. But Goldman was just as much an LA type. After his parents divorced when he was barely five years old, he grew up largely in the care of his father. They moved from Chicago to Agoura Hills, a wealthy Los Angeles suburb. Goldman met Nicole Brown Simpson at a Starbucks coffee bar across from the Mezzaluna restaurant where he was a waiter. They worked out together at a Brentwood gym, dined and danced.

He drifted through waiting jobs at restaurants such as Truly Yours and the California Pizza Kitchen. He was tanned and trim, lived on the fringes of the smart set in Brentwood, played volleyball on the beach and softball on Sundays, spent his time off rollerblading and working out.

Goldman was remembered as a handsome lightweight in high school, with tousled hair and dark eyes. He got every girl he wanted, friends said. But they did not believe that Ron and Nicole became lovers, though it would have been natural. Evidence showed his visit to her home that night in June 1994 was an innocent trip to return a pair of glasses that Nicole's mother had left at Mezzaluna. "Ron was starstruck," Janet Murrill, a screenwriter and former housemate, told People magazine. "If he had been sleeping with Nicole, he would have been bragging about it."

The thing about Ron, friends said, was that "people really liked him". Like the staff at the Renaissance, the Santa Monica night club where Nicole liked to hang out with her girlfriends. He worked as a volunteer with children who suffered from cerebral palsy, at a centre where he moussed their hair and gave them beauty treatments.

Like Nicole, who said she wanted to be a photographer, Goldman had hazy, feel-good ambitions: he said he wanted to settle down, have a family. His dream was to open his own restaurant or bar, though in 1992 he filed for bankruptcy with credit-card debts of $12,000.

"That's why he had jobs at restaurants," said his father, Fred. "He was getting a handle on what it took. He was putting his life together."