The former American footballer, who has been behind bars for nearly five years, made the claim as he pleaded with a parole board in Nevada to cut his prison sentence.
Simpson told the board: “When I arrived here about five years ago and I was told what was expected of me, I gave them my word that I’d be the best prisoner they’ve ever had. I think for the most part I’ve kept my word on that.
“I’ve been as respectful and as straightforward as I could be with the staff here and I’ve served my time as best as I can.
“On a day-to-day basis I speak to more inmates than anyone here. Some of them tell me about their crimes … they’ve robbed banks, they’ve robbed casinos – one guy even robbed a gun shop, which I thought took a lot of guts.
“The difference between their crimes and mine is that they were trying to steal other people’s property or money. I was trying to retrieve, for my family, my own property – items that were stolen from me.”
Simpson was sentenced to up to 33 years in prison for his part in the robbery of two sports memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas hotel room in 2007.
He is seeking parole for robbery, kidnapping and burglary convictions but would need to finish other, consecutive sentences, including assault with a deadly weapon, before being released.
It means he is unlikely to leave prison before 2017.
During his 15-minute parole hearing, Simpson said the collectors he took property from “could have it all” if he could get back the years he has spent apart from his family.
Describing his time in prison as “illuminating and painful”, he said: “I’ve missed my two younger kids. I’ve missed their college graduations, I’ve missed my sister’s funeral and I’ve missed various birthdays.”
Simpson went on to speak about his prison work – initially as a cleaner and then as a gym worker, disinfecting workout equipment, mopping floors and supervising activities.
The former NFL Player of the Year, who played for the Buffalo Bills and the San Francisco 49ers during an illustrious career, also described how he has coached teams and umpired games.
Parole commissioner Susan Jackson and hearing representative Robin Bates’ recommendation will go to the full parole board, with a final decision expected next week.
Simpson is also waiting to hear whether his request for a new trial, based on claims his lawyer botched his defense and had a conflict of interest in the case, has been granted.