Robert Kardashian’s tragic cancer battle and the deathbed vow Bruce Jenner ‘broke’

Robert Kardashian’s tragic cancer battle and the deathbed vow Bruce Jenner ‘broke’

The Kardashian Klan are arguably one of the most famous families on the planet, but heartbreakingly their beloved father Robert Kardashian never lived to see the incredible success they enjoy today.

Robert, a hotshot Los Angeles lawyer, died 17 years ago in September 2003 – just two months after being diagnosed with esophageal cancer.

The patriarch’s sudden decline in health came like a bolt out of the blue to his stunned family.

Robert didn’t smoke or drink and there was no history of cancer in the family when he died at the age of 59, leaving his children bereft.

“It was so surreal, the knowledge he had cancer was one thing, but to think it would actually take his life, I never in a million years thought that would happen to him,” Kris Jenner later said of his sudden passing.

Daughter Khloe later said that she could only put her father’s untimely death down to stress.

“I think holding in secrets [and] stress kills you! I feel like you manifest things, you have to think…” she mused.

Robert’s passing came eight years after he rose to prominence through his involvement in the OJ Simpson ‘trial of the century’.

He served as a member of Simpson’s defence team when the American footballer was accused of the double murder of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

Robert hadn’t been in a courtroom for two decades and hadn’t worked as a lawyer for 12 years when he got involved in the case, but re-activated his licence specially to help his friend OJ, claiming he was convinced of his innocence.

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Robert Kardashian's tragic cancer battle and the deathbed vow Bruce Jenner 'broke'

The move put a huge strain on his relationship with ex-wife Kris Jenner, who was a close friend of murdered Nicole.

When OJ was eventually acquitted, Kris was pregnant with her first child with Caitlyn Jenner, then known as Bruce, who she later called Kendall Nicole Jenner in tribute to her late friend.

After the case, Kris and Robert had to move past the controversy to continue raising their four children as co-parents.

Eight years later, when Robert’s cancer was found to be terminal he called upon Kris’ new husband Bruce Jenner to take care of those kids.

Bruce promise that he would ‘always take care’ of Kourtney, Kim, Khloe and Rob when their father was no longer around.

For a while the blended Kardshian-Jenner family carried on their dysfunctional but loving bond, documented on their E! reality series Keeping Up With the Kardashians.

But as Bruce transitioned to Caitlyn after her 2013 split from Kris Jenner, Khloe accused her step-dad of failing to keep to her word.

Robert Kardashian's tragic cancer battle and the deathbed vow Bruce Jenner 'broke'

Speaking on I’m A Celebrity…. Get Me Out of Here!, Caitlyn revealed Khloe had been ‘p****d off’ by her transformation and they hadn’t spoken in five years.

Khloe later admitted she felt Bruce was ‘walking out of their lives’ – which is not what Caitlyn promised Khloe’s late father.

Writing in her book Strong Looks Better Naked, Khloe explained: “In some ways I felt the worst part was that other people had known about the transition before we did. I felt devalued by that fact.

‘It was about my own loss; it was about the pain I felt because he was walking out of our lives,” she said.

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Robert’s legacy has lived on through his children, with son Robert attending the same school – the University of California – he went to and brandishing his arm with a huge tattoo of his father’s face.

While Kim has also followed in her dad’s footsteps by pursuing legal studies after being inspired by her prison reform work in recent years.

His former wife Kris has even contemplated changing her surname back to Kardashian.

“I live in a Kardashian world,” she explained to ABC news. “It’s like Kardashian inc. in my office – I eat Kardashian, I breathe Kardashian, I sleep Kardashian. I deal in Kardashians- so everyone calls me Kris Kardashian, and it goes on and on.”

Speaking on what would have been her father’s 76th birthday in February this year, Kim paid tribute to Robert on Instagram as she told him: “Happy Birthday dad! Miss you beyond understanding. Wish you were here to see it all!”