The Truth About O.J. Simpson And Robert Kardashian's Relationship

Long before Keeping Up with the Kardashians was on E!, the family moniker was a household name for a very different reason. Robert Kardashian, aka Kim, Khloé, Kourtney, and Rob's dad, was a member of O.J. Simpson's legal defense team while the former NFL player was on trial for the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. Prior to that, Kardashian and Simpson had been friends for decades.

Viewers of Ryan Murphy's drama The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story might remember a ham-fisted moment where Kardashian, played by David Schwimmer, tells his four children that "fame is fleeting." But, while the Kardashians are not happy with the dramatic portrayal of the case and their family, it got one thing right: Kardashian and Simpson were close pals. Here's what you need to know about how the unlikely pair met and how their friendship evolved over the years.

O.J. Simpson and Robert Kardashian met in 1969

As The Los Angeles Times reported in 2003, O.J. Simpson and Robert Kardashian both went to the University of South Carolina, but their paths did not cross on campus, as Kardashian was ahead of Simpson in school. According to the paper, the two men met "on a tennis court" in 1969 and went on to play many more games of tennis together as their friendship developed. By the time Simpson's murder trial took place in 1995, the men had been inseparable for decades.

They were so close, in fact, that Simpson was an usher at Kardashian's wedding to Kris Jenner (then Kris Houghton), per the Times. And Kardashian was with Simpson the night he met Nicole Brown, the paper noted. After the pair's respective weddings, their families remained close and spent holidays and vacations together, and Jenner and Brown went on to become close friends, as their husbands had been. Eventually, Kardashian and Jenner divorced in 1991, while Brown and Simpson divorced in 1992 — but the two men remained friends through it all.

Robert Kardashian publicly read O.J. Simpson's suicide note

Five days after the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, Robert Kardashian read what seemed to be a suicide note written by his friend, per Vanity Fair. In the letter, O.J. Simpson wrote that he was not responsible for Nicole's murder and that the couple had "mutually agreed to go our separate ways."

"I have nothing to do with Nicole's murder. I loved her; always have and always will. If we had a problem, it's because I loved her so much," O.J. wrote in the letter. He also thanked several of his friends by name, including Kardashian, whom he referred to as "Bobby."

Kardashian read the note aloud to the media, per HuffPost, the same day as the infamous white Bronco chase took place. And Kardashian was on the phone with Simpson during the chase. As HuffPost noted, Simpson "was holding a gun to his own head" during the chase, according to driver A.C. Cowlings. The former football star did not take his own life, but the reading of the note was many people's first introduction to Robert Kardashian.

During O.J. Simpson's murder trial, Robert Kardashian said he knew him better than anyone

Robert Kardashian did not hide his close friendship with O.J. Simpson during the trial. Instead, he saw it as a strength. "I know O.J. better than anyone on the legal team," Kardashian said to the Los Angeles Times in July 1994. "There are so many things I know about his personality. My job is really strategy and liaison between the lawyers and O.J."

It makes sense, then, that Kardashian was the "Dream Team" member who talked to Simpson daily, per the Times. Their close bond also explains why Kardashian "reactivated his license to practice law," the paper reported; he had previously stopped practicing, focusing instead on his business deals. But given the pair's personal history, Kardashian returned to the courtroom to defend his friend.

In a June 2019 Twitter video, Simpson said, "Bob Kardashian was like a brother to me, he was a great guy," so the respect was mutual. (Simpson also clarified that he is not Khloé Kardashian's father and never had "any interest in Kris," despite longstanding gossip.)

Robert Kardashian admitted he had doubts about O.J. Simpson's innocence

Even though he reactivated his legal license to defend his pal, Robert Kardashian later wondered if O.J. Simpson was guilty of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman's murders. Per the Los Angeles Times, Kardashian wrote a letter to Kris Jenner and the couple's four children the night before the trial, which said, "I truly believe in O.J.'s innocence and unless they find him guilty, I will continue to support him." But after the evidence was presented, Kardashian apparently reconsidered a few things.

"I have doubts," Kardashian said to Barbara Walters during a 20/20 interview in October 1996, per the Times. "The blood evidence is the biggest thorn in my side; that causes me the greatest problems. So I — I struggle with the blood evidence."

Kardashian ultimately died from esophageal cancer in 2003. Simpson, meanwhile, "served nine years in prison for robbery and kidnapping over an attempt to steal back some of his sports memorabilia from a Las Vegas hotel room," per the Associated Press. He was subsequently released in October 2017 and told AP in June 2019 that "life is fine" for him post-prison.