O.J. Simpson's Friend—Whom He Once Robbed—Says O.J. Thought He'd 'Get Better' Before Death (Exclusive)

Longtime friend Bruce Fromong suspected Simpson was "not feeling well" about a week and a half before his death

<p>Daniel Gluskoter-Pool/Getty; Jason Bean-Pool/Getty </p> Bruce Fromong and OJ Simpson

Daniel Gluskoter-Pool/Getty; Jason Bean-Pool/Getty

Bruce Fromong and OJ Simpson

While O.J. Simpson wasn't feeling well before his death, he thought he would "get better," longtime friend Bruce Fromong exclusively tells PEOPLE.

Simpson, who died on April 10 at 76, was scheduled to do a signing for the PSA-JSA memorabilia company owner a week and a half before his death. Simpson called his longtime friend to cancel because he wasn’t feeling well.

After he canceled, Fromong, 70, proposed another time, but Simpson replied, “ ‘Nah, I just give me a little bit of time. Let me get to feeling better.’ ”

“I went, ‘Huh, it's so bad you can't...'" says Fromong. "Because he enjoyed getting around the guys and signing," adding, “That meant he was really not feeling well.”

Related: O.J. Simpson Wasn't Himself Weeks Before Death, Friend Reveals: ‘His Physical Well-Being Was Not the Norm’ (Exclusive)

<p>Jae Hong-Pool/Getty</p> Bruce Fromong on September 15, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Jae Hong-Pool/Getty

Bruce Fromong on September 15, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Although Fromong was privy to Simpson’s diagnosis for "about a year," he was not aware of how “advanced” his prognosis was. He also believed Simpson had beat the cancer, and thought he “maybe he had a cold or flu” when he canceled the signing.

“We thought he was getting better, and he was not.” Fromong explains that Simpson didn’t tell a lot of people about his diagnosis, noting how the pair “weren't as close” as they “used to be in the old days either.”

In 2007, Fromong and several other sports memorabilia dealers were robbed and held up at gunpoint by Simpson and a group of armed men at the Las Vegas Palace Station. Subsequently, Simpson was found guilty on 12 charges, including robbery and kidnapping. He was sentenced to 33 years in prison but was released in October 2017. At the time, Fromong testified in support of the release of his friend.

Related: O.J. Simpson Was Found Guilty of Robbery and Kidnapping Charges Exactly 13 Years After Being Acquitted of Murder

<p>O.J. SImpson/X</p> OJ Simpson

O.J. SImpson/X

OJ Simpson

Fromong tells PEOPLE that after the robbery, he forgave Simpson. He explains that the two men reconnected once Simpson was released from prison and after the late football player thanked Fromong for going to his parole hearing.

After his release, the friends would see each other around Las Vegas and catch up, says Fromong. He tells PEOPLE that he saw Simpson a couple of months before his death at the Aliante Golf Club, and “he looked fine,” adding that he “looked like O.J.”

Related: Ron Goldman's Father Says O.J. Simpson's Death Is Just a Reminder of 'How Long Ron Has Been Gone' (Exclusive)

<p>O.J. Simpson X</p> O.J. Simpson in 2024.

O.J. Simpson X

O.J. Simpson in 2024.

Fromong clarifies that after running into each other at Aliante, they did a signing. But he reiterates that Simpson canceled the recent signing that was scheduled for earlier this month, clarifying Simpson offered no proposed rescheduled dates.

He says that although Simpson wasn’t feeling well, he did not get the impression that the late football player knew he would pass away in the following weeks. Fromong reveals he texted Simpson on Tuesday night, April 9, that read “something to the effect” of “‘Hey old buddy, hope you get to feeling better, and we'll talk soon.’" But Simpson never responded and died the next day.

Although Simpson and Fromong had a complicated past, the memorabilia dealer says he’ll “absolutely” miss his friend. “It's the end of a long friendship,” he tells PEOPLE. “I will always be a friend that will think about him.”

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