Robert Kardashian was a close friend of OJ Simpson at the time of Nicole Brown Simpson’s death. He served as a volunteer member of Simpson’s legal team and stood by him throughout the trial and eventual acquittal. But toward the end of Kardashian’s life, their friendship had strained, both because of a dispute and as Kardashian expressed doubts about Simpson’s innocence.
Their friendship is a key element of FX’s The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.
Kardashian died of cancer in 2003 at the age of 59.
Here’s what you need to know about their friendship and eventual falling out:
Robert Kardashian met OJ Simpson on a tennis court at the University of Southern California in 1969, according to The Guardian.
They remained friends for several years, playing golf and taking vacations together. Simpson was an usher at Kardashian’s wedding to his first wife, Kris, and Kardashian was with Simpson when he met Nicole Brown in 1977. Kardashian and Simpson were also business partners in a frozen yogurt business.
But after Simpson was found not guilty, there relationship appeared to be strained.
In 1996, he questioned Simpson’s innocence during an interview on ABC with Barbara Walters.
“I have doubts. The blood evidence is the biggest thorn in my side; that causes me the greatest problems. So I struggle with the blood evidence,” he said, according to CNN.
He also told Walters that Simpson never thanked him for his help during the trial.
Simpson and Kardashian also clashed over a book about the trial he contributed to, American Tragedy: The Uncensored Story of the Simpson Defense, which was released in 1997.
The former football star and actor told the New York Times that Kardashian had betrayed attorney-client privilege by telling details of the case.
The book’s author, Larry Schiller, told the New York Times, that Kardashian, “stood by O. J. irrespective of how he felt because he felt that nobody else was standing by O. J., not because of his innocence or guilt, but because there was a friendship there.”
Schiller said Kardashian was a collaborating source for the book, but not the primary source, the Times reported.
In 1995, Kardashian wrote about the trial, according to the Los Angeles Times:
O.J. Simpson never lied to me. He has told me that he did not commit these horrible crimes and I have no reason not to believe him. It was from that perspective that I came to stand by his side during his trial. For me, the question was: What would you do for a friend? Would you give up your business, put your personal life on hold and devote a year and a half of your life to a friend? I did, without realizing what an awful journey I was about to take.
After Kardashian’s death, Simpson spoke about their relationship.
“It’s shocking when a friend close to you passes. I loved Bobby,” Simpson told CNN. “We had one disagreement over the years, about a book he did for money. He explained it to me, I understood it, and we put it aside. Bob was there when I needed him most.”
Simpson is currently serving a prison sentence for robbery and kidnapping in an unrelated crime.