Vanessa Bryant has publicly slammed Nike after images of sneakers that she designed in honor of her late daughter Gianna were leaked online without her permission – even though she never gave the brand authorization to produce them.
The 39-year-old, who is the wife of late NBA star Kobe Bryant, shared a statement on her Instagram Stories on Thursday morning, when she hit out at Nike over the apparent leak of the shoe design, which she originally created to benefit the Mamba & Mambacita Foundation, a charity set up in honor of her late husband and daughter who died in a 2020 helicopter crash.
Vanessa shared an image of the sneakers being held up by an unknown person, while revealing that the shoes appear to have been produced without her authorization – and released after Kobe’s years-long contract with Nike expired.
She explained that the design of the shoe had been discussed with Nike, but ultimately Vanessa decided not to go ahead with the collaboration – nor did she agree to re-sign her late husband’s deal with the brand.
‘This is a shoe I worked on in honor of my daughter, Gianna,’ she wrote. ‘It was going to be called the Mambacita shoe as an exclusive black and white colorway on her daddy’s shoes.’
‘The MAMBACITA shoes are NOT approved for sale’: Vanessa Bryant is seeking information over the unauthorized release of Mambacita shoes that were made in honor of her late daughter Gianna Bryant
Vanessa added that she personally chose all of the different elements of the design, from the number 2 featured on them – the same number that her daughter wore on her basketball uniform – and the names Gigi and Kobe on the back.
‘I picked the colors in honor of her [basketball] 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,’ she continued.
In a photo posted to her account, the unauthorized shoe could be seen held by a person.
‘This is a shoe I worked on in honor of my daughter, Gianna. It was going to be called the Mambacita shoe as an exclusive black and white colorway on her daddy’s shoes,’ Vanessa wrote in the statement.
‘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 approved for sale. I wanted it to be sold in honor of my daughter with ALL of the proceeds benefitting our @mambamambacitasports foundation but I did not re-sign the Nike contract and decided not to sell these shoes. (The MAMBACITA shoes were not approved to be made in the first place).
Calling it out: Bryant revealed the shoes had somehow landed in the hands of others, despite her revoking approval over their manufacturing
‘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 do not get sold. @nike.’
In the caption, Bryant asked for those with the shoes to come forward with information as to how they obtained them.
‘In the 2nd photo, it appears someone already has Gigi’s MAMBACITA shoe in their possession. If someone can share how they have these shoes in their possession, that would be great because my daughters and I don’t have any of Gigi’s MAMBACITA shoes.’
Tragedy: Bryant lost her daughter Gianna and husband Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash last year
How? People were sharing information on how to obtain the shoes online
Bryant also shared tweets with information on how people could get a pair for themselves.
‘Do your research a store in the U.K. called foot patrol released a few pairs early by accident (nail polish emoji). stay sleeping,’ the tweet read. Vanessa circled the message and added a question mark.
She also expressed confusion over a photo depicting an ‘on-feet look’ of the shoes, which were being worn by a model.
How did this happen? She also expressed confusion over a photo depicting an ‘on-feet look’ of the shoes, which were being worn by a model
‘I don’t own a pair’: One Instagram user who posted photos of the shoes in mid-May addressed the controversy on his Stories on Thursday
The controversy was also addressed by one Instagram user who posted photos of the shoe last month.
‘Guys, I just want to make it clear that I don’t own a pair of those Mambacita Kobes,’ Brandon1an wrote on his Instagram Stories on Thursday.
‘The pictures I posted are official product pictures from a Nike authorized retailer.’
It has been year a year since Gianna and her father Kobe Bryant tragically died in a helicopter crash. Gianna was just 13-years-old and her father 41.
‘You just have to get up and push forward’: In a recent interview with People, Bryant shared how she had been moving forward after the heartbreaking loss
Vanessa spoke to People this past March about moving forward less than two years after the crash in Calabasas, California that also claimed the lives of pilot Ara Zobayan, 50, Alyssa Altobelli, 14, Keri Altobelli, 46, John Altobelli, 56, Payton Chester, 13, Sarah Chester, 46, and Christina Mauser, 38.
‘This pain is unimaginable [but] you just have to get up and push forward,’ she told the outlet. ‘Lying in bed crying isn’t going to change the fact that my family will never be the same again.
‘But getting out of bed and pushing forward is going to make the day better for my girls and for me. So that’s what I do.’
Family ties: In addition to Gianna, Vanessa shares daughters Natalia, 18, Bianka, four, and one-year-old Capri with her late husband