Goldman grew up in an affluent community in Buffalo Grove, Illinois. His parents divorced in 1974 when he was six and, after spending a brief time in the custody of his mother (Sharon Rufo), he was raised by his father (Fred Goldman), and lived with him and his younger sister, Kim Goldman.
Goldman grew up Jewish.He attended high school at Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Illinois. He was a student at Illinois State University for one semester (where he planned to major in psychology) and a pledge to Sigma Nu fraternity before he followed his family to southern California at age 18.
When younger, Goldman had worked as a camp counselor and had volunteered to help disabled children
While living in Los Angeles, Goldman took some classes at Pierce College. He learned to surf and enjoyed playing beach volleyball, rollerblading, nightclubbing, and working out at a trendy gym. He was also an avid Karate practitioner, in the discipline. He neither drank nor took drugs, and adhered to a low-fat diet.
Upon arriving in California (where he lived independently from his family), Goldman first supported himself by working as an employment headhunter and tennis instructor, and then worked a string of waiter jobs. He also occasionally did work as a model for Barry Zeldes, owner of Z90049 (the store next to the California Pizza Kitchen in Brentwood Gardens where Goldman had worked before Mezzaluna). Not long before his death, he had earned an Emergency Medical Technician's license but decided not to pursue that career.
Instead, he told friends that he wanted to open a bar or restaurant in the Brentwood area. He had shared with friends his vision of opening a future restaurant or bar characterized not by a name, but by the Ankh (an Egyptian religious symbol of life that matched the tattoo on his shoulder). According to his friend Jeff Keller, Goldman wanted to learn all facets of the restaurant-bar business, and occasionally worked as a promoter, at a Century City dance club called Tripps and for Memorial Day, participated with a group of event promoters in organizing a party at Renaissance, a club and restaurant on the Santa Monica Promenade.
Goldman had also expressed aspirations to act and to be on a show, and he appeared as a contestant on the short-lived game show Studs in 1992
At the time of his murder, Goldman had a job as a waiter at Mezzaluna Trattoria, a restaurant located at 11750 San Vicente Boulevard in Los Angeles. Nicole Brown Simpson, the ex-wife of O. J. Simpson, had called there to report that her mother Juditha Brown had accidentally left her eyeglasses on the restaurant table. After a quick search, they were discovered in the gutter outside the restaurant. Although Goldman had not served Nicole's table, he agreed to take them to her home after work. Some authors, including attorney-author Gerry Spence and the LAPD detective, Mark Fuhrman, have cited this fact as evidence that Nicole and Goldman were lovers. Goldman had previously told friends he and Nicole were just friends.
Before returning the eyeglasses, Goldman stopped at his apartment located at 11663 Gorham Avenue in Brentwood to change clothes and possibly take a shower. He had made after-work plans with his friend Stewart Tanner, Mezzaluna's bartender, who said: "He was going to go home and change and then we were going to go out". The_Los Angeles Times_ reports, "Goldman punched out at 9:33 p.m. and stayed another 15 minutes to have a bottled water at the bar. Then he left, still in his uniform, black pants and white shirt, his tie shed. He carried the glasses that Simpson wanted returned to her. 'I'll see you later,' he called to Tanner as he walked out."
When Goldman arrived at Nicole's residence, located at 875 South Bundy Drive, he was murdered along with her on the walkway leading to the residence. He was just a few weeks shy of his 26th birthday. During a reconstruction of the events, the police came to believe he had arrived during or shortly after Nicole's murder and was stabbed to death. His dead body was found shortly after midnight, when the police arrived at the crime scene.
Goldman is buried at Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks Memorial Park in Westlake Village, California