Earlier this year, Vanessa Bryant decided not to renew her late-husband Kobe’s partnership with Nike. Sources who spoke with ESPN at the time claimed she and his estate had grown “frustrated” with negotiations and the “limited availability of Kobe products during his retirement and after his January 2020 death.” Now, tribute shoes in memory of her daughter Gianna, who also died in that horrible helicopter crash, have surfaced online and on the basketball court, and Bryant has some questions.
Early Thursday, Bryant shared photos of an unnamed person holding a pair of black “MAMBACITA” shoes, which she claims was a scrapped collaboration with Nike. “I picked the colors in honor of her uniform, the number 2 she wore just like on her uniform, the inside pattern, Kobe and Gigi on the back in gold instead of Kobe’s signature, the inside shoe details “(butterflies, wings, halo) etc.”
“The MAMBACITA shoes are NOT approved for sale. I wanted it to be sold to honor my daughter with ALL of the proceeds benefitting our @mambamambacitasports foundation but I did not resign the Nike contract and decided not to sell these shoes. (The MAMBACITA shoes were not approved to be made in the first place.) Nike has NOT sent any of these pairs to me and my girls. I do not know how someone else has their hands on the shoes I designed in honor of my daughter, Gigi and we don’t. I hope these shoes did not get sold.”
Bryant added more context on her Instagram Story, sharing tweets that featured the shoes, as well as photos of Milwaukee Bucks player Khris Middleton in a pair on May 29.
In her statement announcing she would not renew her late husband’s contract with Nike, Bryant said: “I was hoping to forge a lifelong partnership with Nike that reflects my husband’s legacy. We will always do everything we can to honor Kobe and Gigi’s legacies. That will never change.” She also made it clear that while the estate would no longer work with Nike, she would “fight” for fans to still have access to products and merchandise.
Nike has not publicly commented on leaks of the “MAMBACITA” shoe. This post will be updated accordingly.