Vanessa Bryant, the widow of the late NBA star Kobe Bryant, slammed Nike today on Instagram, asking how the exclusive Mambacita sneakers that she designed — but never approved to be sold — are ending up in the public’s hands.
Vanessa Bryant wants an explanation of why the black-and-white shoes she designed with Nike to honor her daughter Gianna, nicknamed Gigi, and her husband Kobe, who died in a helicopter crash in January 2020, have seemingly been released without her approval.
She posted a picture of an unknown person holding the shoes, writing, “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.”
She further wrote, “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. 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.”
Vanessa insists that Nike does not have permission to make or sell these shoes: “The MAMBACITA shoes are NOT approved for sale. I wanted it to be sold to honor 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.) 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. I hope these shoes did not get sold.”
Another Instagram user commented that a sneaker shop called Footpatrol in the United Kingdom had released some pairs of the shoes early. Resale websites Goat and Flight Club also have the shoes listed, but are sold out.
The Instagram account B/R Kicks posted professional photos of the shoes on Wednesday, with the caption. “An on-feet look at the Nike Kobe 6 Protro ‘Mamba Forever’ releasing later this year.”
According to Sneaker News, these illicit shoes could have ended up in the public’s hands in a couple of ways. Firstly, some “Instagram users have stated that some consumers received the ‘Mambacita’ pair because Footpatrol mistakenly shipped out wrong items for their release of the Kobe 5 Protro ‘Hall Of Fame’.” Secondly, the shoes could have been “backdoored” to a high bidder. Thirdly, the leaked shoes could have “escaped the factory walls in Asia.” (Although none of these explain how the shoes were even manufactured in the first place if Vanessa never signed off on it.)
Vanessa Bryant released her own Mambacita clothing collection in honor of her daughter Gigi and to benefit her nonprofit foundation last month, which very quickly sold out.