Vanessa Bryant Calls Out Nike After Unapproved Mambacita Shoe Turns Up Online

Vanessa Bryant has taken steps that continue to uphold Kobe Bryant’s legacy and pay tribute to their daughter, Gianna. In May, she launched the Mambacita clothing line in memory of Gianna with proceeds benefitting the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation. There are other initiatives and partnerships in place, but Bryant just challenged Nike over an unreleased Mambacita shoe design that mysteriously popped up on the internet in someone’s hands.

Vanessa Laine Bryant arrives at the 2018 Baby2Baby Gala on November 10, 2018 in Culver City, California
Vanessa Bryant arrives at the 2018 Baby2Baby Gala on November 10, 2018 in Culver City, California | Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty Images

Vanessa Bryant calls out Nike for Gianna Bryant Mambacita shoe

In the early hours of June 3, Vanessa Bryant posted a lengthy message on Instagram aimed at Nike. She attached a photo of someone holding an exclusive sneaker that she helped design. Bryant explained that the shoe never received approval for sale.

“This is a shoe I worked on in honor of my daughter, Gianna. It was going to be called MAMBACITA shoe as an exclusive black and white colorway on her daddy’s shoes,” she wrote. “I picked the colors in honor of her uniform, the number 2 she wore just like her uniform, the inside pattern, Kobe and Gigi on the back in gold instead of Kobe’s signature, the inside shoe details (butterfly, wings, halo), etc. The MAMBACITA shoes are not for sale.”

Bryant added that the sneakers were not approved for production or sale and further, Nike did not send any pairs to her or her family. She stated that she doesn’t know how someone wound up with the shoes and wrote, “I hope these shoes did not get sold @nike.”

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Vanessa Bryant ended relationship with Nike in the spring

In April, Bryant released a statement announcing that the Bryant estate would not renew business ties with Nike. She told ESPN that her husband’s contract expired in April, and said, “Kobe and Nike have made some of the most beautiful basketball shoes of all time, worn and adored by fans and athletes in all sports across the globe. It seems fitting that more NBA players wear my husband’s product than any other signature shoe.”

ESPN confirmed that the family estate owns the rights to the Mamba logo, and Bryant originally hoped to have a longstanding arrangement with the company. However, she wanted to make products available for wider distribution instead of in limited quantities.

“My hope will always be to allow Kobe’s fans to get and wear his products,” Bryant told ESPN. “I will continue to fight for that. Kobe’s products sell out in seconds. That says everything.”

“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,” said Bryant. At the time, Nike praised Kobe Bryant as part of their family and expressed their admiration for his work on and off the court.  

The Bryant estate has numerous partnerships in place to further the efforts of the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation. Fans can follow the organization (or Vanessa Bryant) on Instagram to learn more about product launches and other events.