Former American footballer O.J. Simpson has died at the age of 76. In a statement on X, formerly Twitter, his family said: "On April 10th, our father, Orenthal James Simpson, succumbed to his battle with cancer.

“He was surrounded by his children and grandchildren. During this time of transition, his family asks that you please respect their wishes for privacy and grace."

Simpson was tried for the murder of his wife Nicole Brown Simpson in October 1995, in what was dubbed the "trial of the century". He was found not guilty of murdering two people. The trial was headline news across the world and ripped apart the family of his close lifelong friends Robert Kardashian and wife Kris Jenner.

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Robert Kardashian, the father of Kourtney, Kim, Khloé, and Rob, had been a friend of the sports star, actor and broadcaster, for decades, long before he was overtaken by notoriety. The pair were involved in business ventures including a frozen yoghurt shop and a music video company.

Kardashian's family were close to Simpson's and there are pictures of Simpson with Nicole Brown alongside Kardashian and his wife Jenner. The closeness led to rumours of an affair between Simpson and Chris Jenner which both would forecefully deny.

When Simpson was accused of the double murder of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, Kardashian stood by his friend. He was seen frequently by Simpson's side in the days after the killings and let the sports star stay in his home.

Kardashian was also seen taking luggage from Simpson’s estate that some believe may have contained evidence. Simpson then would not turn himself into the police and Kardashian read a letter from Simpson, which many took to be a suicide note, during a press conference.

Simpson was only later captured after a police chase and Kardashian, who hadn't been in a courtroom for two decades at that stage and hadn't worked as a lawyer for 12 years, reactivated his licence to help Simpson, claiming his friend was innocent.

However Kardashian's wife Kris Jenner strongly believed that Simpson was guilty and their daughter Kim Kardashian has described how it drove them apart.

Kris Jenner and Robert Kardashian
Kris Jenner and Robert Kardashian

According to Kim, who was 13 years old when Simpson’s trial began, her dad pulled her and her Kourtney, then 14, out of school because he wanted them to “witness a piece of history” – something she said was “really tough”. She added in an interview with GQ: “We walked [into the trial] and saw my mom sitting on the other side. She said, ‘You’re supposed to be in school. What are you doing here?’ Kourtney and I didn’t even look at her.”

Kim Kardashian
Kim Kardashian is Robert's daughter

Kim previously opened up about how the Simpson trial affected her family during an appearance on David Letterman's Netflix show, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. “My mom was extremely vocal about her feelings... she believed that her friend was murdered by him and that was really traumatising for her,” she said. “And then we’d go to my dad’s house and it was a whole other situation there. We didn’t really know what to believe or whose side to take as kids, because we didn’t want to hurt one of our parents' feelings.”

Kourtney Kardashian, being slightly older, has previously said she heard her parents arguing. She said: "Just being the oldest, I would overhear things,' she explained. 'I remember one night hearing them whisper-arguing. My parents never fought my whole life, so it was traumatizing when they did."

In 2017, Caitlyn Jenner (then Bruce) claimed in her memoir that Robert secretly believed Simpson was guilty. She said a few years after the trial, she and Robert were in a car together when he said, ‘I would’ve been OK with it if they had gotten him in the first trial.’

When Simpson was eventually acquitted, his ex-wife Kris – a close friend of the murdered Nicole – was pregnant with her first child with Caitlyn, who she called Kendall Nicole Jenner in tribute.

Robert died aged just 59 on September 30, 2003 after a short eight-week battle with oesophageal cancer. You can keep up to date with the latest TV and showbiz news by signing up to the newsletter here.