Kim Kardashian finally opened up about how the O.J. Simpson trial 'tore her family apart'

Part of the reason why the O.J. Simpson trial still captures our attention 25 years later is because it's filled with complexities - and complexities on top of complexities at that. Kim Kardashian West finally opened up about her experience during the O.J. Simpson trial on the third season of David Letterman's Netflix show My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, adding another layer to the situation.

Kardashian, who was 14 at the time, said she was close to Simpson before the trial, calling him "Uncle O.J." The whole Kardashian-Jenner brood even went on a family vacation in Mexico with the Simpsons just weeks before Nicole's murder.



My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman | Kim Kardashian West on OJ Simpson youtu.be


However, the O.J. Simpson trial "tore my family apart," Kardashian said. Kardashian's parents had already been divorced, but adding a trial and subsequent media circus did not help family relations. Kardashian's dad, the late Robert Kardashian, was part of Simpson's legal defense, while Kardashian's mom, Kris Jenner, was Nicole's best friend. Kardashian, who was a teenager at the time, wasn't sure which parent to side with.

Kardashian said, that "having your dad take one side and your mom take the complete opposite side" was difficult. "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." Honestly, in some ways it's a very relatable experience for children of divorce – of course without the "whole high-profile celebrity murder trial" thing.

Having to split time in two different houses meant having to hear two wildly different opinions. "My mom was extremely vocal on her feelings -- she believed that her friend was murdered by him and that was really traumatizing for her," Kardashian said. "And then we'd go to my dad's house and it was a whole other situation there."

Kardashian opened up on just how much drama her family was put through. "It was dinner time, and we were all sitting down, and I answered the phone," Kardashian said. "It was a call from jail, and it was O.J., and I handed my mom the phone because he wanted to speak to her. And I just remember them getting into it."

Kardashian recalled her father taking her and her sister out of school to attend the trial. "I remember my mom was sitting with Nicole's parents, and Kourtney and I were sitting behind O.J., and we look over at my mom and she's giving us this death stare - like, 'What are you doing out of school? What are you doing here?!'" said Kardashian. "Kourtney and I were like, 'Just look straight -- do not look at mom.'"

While it's clear where her parents stand on the issue – Jenner even gave her daughter, Kendall, the middle name "Nicole" to honor Nicole Brown – Kardashian's opinions are still private. Letterman asked Kardashian if she thought he did it or not, but Kardashian opted not to answer, instead saying, "I've never expressed how I've felt about that because I just respect his children."

It's interesting to think that for some people, the "trial of the century" was also part of a really bad fight between mom and dad.

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

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This article originally appeared on 03.19.15


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