There are two types of families: The family you’re born with and the family you find along the way. O.J. Simpson’s relationship with the Kardashian clan is the second type. They may not be related by blood, but there is a long, intertwined history between the two families dating all the way back to 1967.
O.J. Simpson’s NFL career
During the ’70s, Simpson was a legendary NFL running back. For the bulk of his career, Simpson, also known as “the Juice,” played for the Buffalo Bills. In the last two years of his career, he was traded back to his hometown of San Francisco to play for the 49ers.
Simpson played college ball for the University of Southern California. In 1968, reports Pro-Football-Reference, he was awarded the Heisman trophy for his incredible rushing performance, which generated an astounding 1,800 yards. He was also a Walter Camp award recipient as well as a two-time All American.
His incredible athleticism carried over into his 11-year NFL career. He was the first ever running back to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a single season, setting a new standard for backs across the league. Simpson was one of the NFL’s first bona fide superstars. Unfortunately, history remembers him for something else entirely.
In 1994, Simpson found himself at the center of what many consider the trial of the century. Simpson’s ex-wife, Nicole Brown and her boyfriend Ron Goldman were found brutally murdered at their Brentwood home near Los Angeles. The primary suspect quickly became Simpson.
Two days later, Brown’s body was discovered. A mesmerized nation watched Simpson attempt to evade arrest in slow motion on the LA freeway in a strange stunt that garnered 95 million viewers. The entire country couldn’t stop watching the ensuing drama of the trial until he received an acquittal 11 months later. But what does any of this have to do with the Kardashians though?
Meeting Robert Kardashian
Simpson first met Robert Kardashian at USC sometime in 1967, reports Slate. Kardashians served as a kind of water boy for the football team; he and Simpson met on many occasions but it was only in passing. Their real friendship wouldn’t start until years later after Simpson had retired from the NFL.
Kardashian, who is of course the father of the ubiquitous fashion/media moguls Kourtney, Khloe, and of course Kim, got his start as a lawyer back in the 1970s before transitioning to the entertainment industry.
He met both Simpson and his future wife Kris Houghton (now Jenner) this way. Some accounts say they met at a party, as Biography reports; other accounts say they met while playing tennis, But either way, it was Simpson’s desire to break into the film industry after his retirement from professional football that drove the two together.
In Kardashian, Simpson found a kindred spirit. The two men soon formed a close relationship that spanned business ventures and family. Their friendship culminated and subsequently faded after Kardashian chose to reactive his legal license and represent his long-time friend during the murder trial.
Kardashian provided resources to help begin Simpson’s movie and TV career. But over the next decade Simpson, along with his numerous wives and girlfriends, would become enmeshed with the Kardashian family.
In fact, Kardashian’s wife would become one of Nicole Brown’s closest confidants, a source of comfort and advice during her tumultuous relationship with O.J. which included numerous instances of physical abuse.
Kim Kardashian West recalls Simpson being such an ever-present figure in her life while growing up that she and her sisters took to calling the family friend “Uncle OJ” whenever they would see him. Nowadays Simpson and the Kardashian family have drifted apart.
Nicole Brown was murdered 26 years ago. Robert Kardashian died in 2003 from cancer. Simpson himself managed to dodge the murder charge, but in 2007 he received a separate armed robbery charge. The remaining Kardashian / Jenner family is on good terms with Simpson, but they are no longer close. At this point, there’s too much water under the bridge.