O.J. Simpson, left, is handcuffed on Oct. 3 after being convicted on all charges in his kidnapping and robbery trial at the Clark County Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas. ((Steve Marcus/Reuters))

A Nevada judge sentenced O.J. Simpson on Friday to as many as 33 years in prison for kidnapping and robbing two sports-memorabilia dealers at gunpoint in a Las Vegas hotel room.

There was initial confusion about the length of the sentence, but Elana Roberto, the judge's clerk, confirmed to the Associated Press that Simpson could serve up to 33 years but be eligible for parole after nine years.

The former football star was convicted in early October on a dozen charges for storming into a room at a hotel-casino with five other men and seizing sports mementoes and personal items from the dealers on Sept. 13, 2007.

Before the sentencing, Simpson stood and delivered an emotional speech apologizing for his actions and pleading for leniency.

"I stand before you today sorry, somewhat confused," he said.

"In no way did I mean to hurt anybody, steal anything from anybody. … I didn't want anybody else's stuff. I just wanted my own."

Simpson described the property as stolen family heirlooms and said the incident was his first opportunity to catch thieves "red-handed" and reclaim them.

But Judge Jackie Glass emphasized that it was a violent confrontation in which at least one gun was drawn, and said someone could have been killed in the heat of the moment.

She also said the evidence was overwhelming, as the planning, confrontation and even the aftermath were all recorded on audio or videotape.

Sentence not 'payback': judge

Simpson, 61, is famous for his acquittal in a highly publicized murder trial 13 years ago over the death of his ex-wife and her friend.

But the judge stressed that the sentencing was in no way retribution or payback for Simpson's acquittal on the murder charges.

"I have to respect what happened in the case 13 years ago. There are many people that disagree with that verdict, but that doesn't matter to me," Glass said.

In 1995, in a sensational trial that attracted media attention around the world, Simpson was acquitted on charges that he murdered his ex-wife, Nicole, and her friend Ron Goldman. He was later found liable for the deaths in a civil case.

Goldman's sister and father, who were at Friday's sentencing, told reporters outside the courtroom that they were thankful for the verdict.

"There's never closure. Ron is always gone. What we have is satisfaction that this monster is where he belongs: behind bars," Ron Goldman's father, Fred Goldman, said.

Goldman's sister said it was an "amazing feeling" to have Simpson off the streets and "not out causing havoc and reminding us of the pain that he caused us 14 years ago."

"Twice in our lifetime, he's walked out the same door as our family, and it was nice to see him walk into his door and his jail cell."

'Much more than stupidity'

During the sentencing hearing, Simpson's attorney Yale Galanter argued for leniency by saying his client's actions "reeked of stupidity" but were never intended to inflict harm.

Judge Glass dismissed the argument, saying "it was much more than stupidity."

Glass also denied a request to free Simpson on bail while he appeals, and Simpson was immediately led away to prison.

His co-defendant and former golfing buddy, Clarence (C.J.) Stewart, was also sentenced to at least 15 years.

Simpson was convicted of kidnapping, armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and a number of other charges.

With files from the Associated Press