Vanessa Bryant Slams Nike for ‘Unauthorized’ Shoes Honoring Her Late Daughter Gianna

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Written by Megan C. Hills, CNN

Vanessa Bryant, widow of basketball legend Kobe Bryant, has accused Nike of releasing sneakers honoring the couple’s late daughter, Gianna, without her blessing.

Taking to Instagram on Thursday, Bryant said the black and white shoes, which she helped design, were “not approved” for sale – and should never have been produced.

CNN has not confirmed that the shoes were made by Nike.

Controversy erupted after social media users started sharing photos of the shoe last month, which is listed on sneaker resale websites as the Nike Zoom Kobe 6 Protro “Mamba Forever”. While Bryant’s late husband had a long-standing partnership with Nike and a range of multiple shoe and gear lines named after him, she decided not to renew that partnership in April.

Bryant said the shoes were designed “in honor” of 13-year-old Gianna, who was killed in a helicopter crash last year, alongside her father and seven others. All proceeds from the sneaker went to the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation, a charity renowned in honor of the couple, she added.

“It was going to be called the MAMBACITA shoe as an exclusive black and white colorway on her dad’s shoes,” she wrote in an Instagram post on Thursday. “I chose the colors in honor of his uniform, the interior design, Kobe and Gigi on the back in gold instead of Kobe’s signature, the interior details of the shoe (butterfly, wings, halo), etc. .

“MAMBACITA shoes are NOT approved for sale,” she continued, alleging that Nike did not send the Bryant family any finished pairs of shoes.

Nike has not yet responded to CNN’s request for comment.

A social media user, whose photo Bryant shared online, commented on his post saying he was “happy” to explain how he got the shoes and offered to send him the pair.

Others in possession of those who said they had the sneakers claimed they had obtained them from UK retailer Footpatrol. A widely shared screenshot of an email from Footpatrol, which CNN could not independently verify, appears to show the retailer apologizing for an ‘error’ that caused an email to be sent. “wrong item”. Footpatrol did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.

Vanessa Bryant speaks on behalf of Class of 2020 inductee Kobe Bryant during the 2021 Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

On Instagram Stories on Thursday, Bryant also shared an image of Milwaukee Bucks player Khris Middleton wearing the shoes during an NBA game last Saturday.

According to sneaker market StockX, a pair had sold through stockists for over $3,000. A user of the Depop resale site has meanwhile listing the sneakers for £10,000 (about $14,200), while another eBay seller claims the item comes with a “FootPatrol London receipt”.
In April, when her late husband’s contract with Nike expired, Bryant told ESPN that his “hope will always be to allow Kobe fans to obtain and wear his products”. She told the outlet that the NBA star’s estate owns the rights to the “Mamba” logo featured on the new Nike sneakers.


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