Vanessa Bryant
Vanessa Bryant, the wife of the late Kobe Bryant, speaks on his behalf during the Class of 2020 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony in Uncasville, Conn., on May 15, 2021. David Butler II / USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

Vanessa Bryant Attacks Nike For Leaked “Mambacita” Shoes

On June 3, Vanessa Bryant expressed outrage on social media after seeing her late husband Kobe Bryant’s shoes, the “Mamba Forever” special edition Nike Kobe 6 Protro, in the hands of sneakerheads and on the feet of Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton. She said the shoes were made in honor of her daughter, Gianna.

“It was going to call it MAMBACITA shoes as an exclusive black and white colorway on her daddy’s shoes. I picked the colors in honor of her uniform, the inside pattern, Kobe and Gigi on the back in gold instead of Kobe’s signature, the inside details (butterfly, wings, halo), etc,” Vanessa Bryant said.

VIA INSTAGRAM

The Nike shoes were set to be released this summer after Kobe and Gianna’s death in January 2020. Vanessa Bryant said her intention with releasing the shoes was to donate all proceeds to the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation. It was similar to her partnership with DANNIJO, which released MAMBACITA tie-dye hoodies and sweatpants on Gianna’s birthday in early May in honor of her daughter while having proceeds go directly to their foundation.

The outraged Instagram post arises two months after she decided not to renew Kobe’s contract with Nike on April 13, 2021. Her decision was most likely in conjunction with Kobe mentioning how he was going to discontinue his partnership with Nike in 2020 along with the limited Kobe gear Nike was releasing to fans after his death.

Vanessa did what she felt was right to honor her husband. Nike capitalized on his death by releasing small portions of his limited edition ‘Black Mamba’ jersey and shoes. Diehard Kobe fans, along with myself, weren’t able to secure any Kobe gear after his death through Nike’s release dates, which was upsetting. Her backing out of renewing his Nike contract to turn around and see pictures surfacing across the internet of the shoes she designed to honor her daughter is not okay.

“The MAMBACITA shoes are NOT approved for sale. (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 shoes I designed in honor of my daughter, Gigi and we don’t,” Vanessa Bryant said.

VIA INSTAGRAM

Whether there was a miscommunication with the release of “Mambacita” shoes, Nike should have made Vanessa Bryant aware that sneakerheads were still going to have access to buying these shoes through third-party vendors. Nike’s decision not to comment on this issue further proves how they were in the wrong even if the company itself didn’t formally release the shoes to the public. The company needs to be held accountable and apologize to Vanessa and the Bryant family. Nike should even take a step further and simply give them the shoes they have despite the expiring contract. This family has been through more than enough with the tragic, sudden loss of Kobe and Gianna. The least Nike can do is clear up the mess they made.

Vanessa should also be more cautious with expressing how she feels on social media. Many celebrities get into hot water and are looked upon in a negative light when they express their feelings on social media. Understandably, Vanessa is still grieving from the unexpected loss of her husband and daughter and will strongly take offense/criticize Nike for people having possession of Kobe shoes which she doesn’t even have possession of herself. But in the same breath, it would be wise if Vanessa would react more business-like with situations like these before companies such as Nike don’t respect her and her decisions with Kobe’s brand.