Written by Megan C. Hills, CNN
Vanessa Bryant, widow of basketball legend Kobe Bryant, has accused Nike of releasing sneakers honoring the pair’s late daughter, Gianna, without her blessing.
Taking to Instagram 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 the shoes were made by Nike.
The controversy arose after social media users began sharing pictures 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 line multiple lines of shoes and gear named after him, she decided not renew that partnership in April.
Bryant said the shoes were designed “in honor” of Gianna, 13, who was killed in a helicopter crash last year, alongside her father and seven others. All proceeds from the sneaker were intended to go to the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation, a charity renamed in honor of the pair, she added.
“It was going to be called the MAMBACITA shoe as an exclusive black and white colorway on her daddy’s shoes,” she wrote in an Instagram post Thursday. “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 shoe details (butterfly, wings, halo), etc.
“The MAMBACITA shoes are NOT approved for sale,” she continued, alleging that Nike had not sent the Bryant family any pairs of the finished shoes.
Nike has not yet responded to CNN’s request for comment.
One social media user, whose photo Bryant shared online, commented on her post saying he was “happy” to offer an explanation of how he got the shoes, and offered to send the pair to her.
Others in possession of the who said they have the sneakers claimed that said they obtained them from UK retailer Footpatrol. A widely-shared screenshot of an email from Footpatrol, which CNN was unable to independently verify, appears to show the retailer apologizing for an “error” that had cause an “incorrect item to be shipped.” Footpatrol has not responded to CNN’s request for comment.
Vanessa Bryant speaks on behalf of Class of 2020 inductee, Kobe Bryant at the 2021 Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement 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 marketplace StockX, a pair had sold via resellers for over $3,000. A user on the resale website Depop has meanwhile listed the sneakers for £10,000 (about $14,200), while another eBay vendor claims that the item comes with a “receipt from FootPatrol London.”
In April, when her late husband’s contract with Nike expired, Bryant told ESPN that her “hope will always be to allow Kobe’s fans to get 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.