It’s hard to remember after 20 seasons of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, but at one point, the late Robert Kardashian was the only famous member of the family — and it was because of his friendship with O.J. Simpson.
After the former NFL player was arrested in connection to the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, in 1994, he enlisted Kardashian to become part of his legal team. Though O.J. was eventually acquitted of all charges in his criminal trial, the University of Southern California alum later expressed doubt that his friend was truly innocent, telling Barbara Walters in 1996 that he had “doubts” about his former client’s exoneration.
Kardashian died of esophageal cancer in September 2003, but his involvement with the trial has followed the rest of his family ever since.
The late attorney married Kris Jenner in 1978 and the former couple went on to welcome daughters Kourtney Kardashian, Kim Kardashian and Khloé Kardashian, along with son Rob Kardashian. Jenner divorced her first husband in 1991.
Despite their split, the producer remained close with Robert and their mutual friends the Simpsons. After Nicole’s murder, however, Jenner made it clear that she was not happy with her ex-husband’s involvement in the case.
“The only thing I discuss with [Robert] is the children, we just keep it about the kids,” the momager told Good Morning America in September 1995. “Because I think what would happen is our opinions are so obviously black and white, that what is that going to do?”
Speaking about the situation during a 2009 appearance on Dr. Phil, the reality star said that the trial and its aftermath were “devastating” for her family. “You have Robert Kardashian on the defense team defending [O.J.’s] team, and you have me, my girlfriend’s dead,” she explained. “It was a very difficult situation and what we needed to do was band together as a family and decide that this isn’t going to tear us apart.”
Kim, who was 13 at the time of O.J.’s arrest, recalled that she and her sisters felt torn between their parents, who were obviously in disagreement over the trial.
“Kourtney and I would go to the trial with my dad, and we’d sit on one side, and I remember looking over and my mom was on the other side sitting next to Nicole’s parents, and there was so much tension,” she said during an April 2009 episode of E! True Hollywood Story. “If we’re siding with this one, my mom and [Caitlyn Jenner] were upset, and if we’re over here, then my dad’s upset.”
Keep scrolling for more quotes from the family about their relationship to O.J.: