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Vanessa Bryant Says Nike, Without Consent, Made Shoes She Designed To Honor Her Child

Basketball great Kobe Bryant (from left), daughter Gianna, wife Vanessa and daughter Natalia are seen before an NCAA college women's basketball game in 2017 in Los Angeles. Vanessa Bryant says Nike is making, without her consent, a shoe she designed in honor of her late daughter, Gianna.
Basketball great Kobe Bryant (from left), daughter Gianna, wife Vanessa and daughter Natalia are seen before an NCAA college women's basketball game in 2017 in Los Angeles. Vanessa Bryant says Nike is making, without her consent, a shoe she designed in honor of her late daughter, Gianna.

Vanessa Bryant, widow of the late basketball great Kobe Bryant, says a shoe she designed for Nike to honor her deceased daughter has been made without her consent, and she wants to know why.

In an Instagram post, Bryant said that after she designed the MAMBACITA, a reference to a nickname for daughter Gianna, who also went by Gigi, she decided not to sell it and did not re-sign a contract with Nike.

Yet Bryant says she's seen photos of people in possession of the distinctive sneaker.

"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," Bryant wrote. "I hope these shoes did not get sold."

Nike did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NPR.

Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna in Irvine, Calif., in 2018. Both were killed in a 2020 helicopter crash.
Chris Carlson / AP
Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna in Irvine, Calif., in 2018. Both were killed in a 2020 helicopter crash.

Kobe Bryant, 41, and Gianna, 13, died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif., in January 2020. The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the pilot decided to fly in bad weather and became disoriented, resulting in the crash that killed all nine people on board.

The hoops legend played for the Los Angeles Lakers for 20 seasons, leading the team to five championships throughout his career, before retiring in 2016.

Vanessa Bryant said the MAMBACITA was intended to be an "exclusive black and white colorway" of the popular Nike Kobe 6 Protro.

"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.," she said.

Bryant added that she had not approved the shoes for sale and wanted all of the proceeds to go to the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation, which was created in memory of Kobe and Gianna Bryant.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.