Vanessa Bryant, widow of NBA star Kobe Bryant, took to social media to call out Nike on Thursday, claiming the footwear manufacturer released an unapproved “MAMBACITA” shoe honoring the Bryants’ late daughter, Gianna Bryant.
Her post came after photos circulated online that appeared to show someone in possession of the shoe.
“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,” Bryant wrote on Instagram.
Kobe Bryant, who won five NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers, and his daughter Gianna “Gigi” Bryant, who was 13, died in a helicopter crash in January 2020.
In the post, Bryant said she designed the shoe with special signifiers of Gianna’s life: the No. 2 that appeared on her uniform; the names “Kobe” and “Gigi” on the back of the shoe; a butterfly, wings and halo.
However, she went on to say she had not authorized the shoe for sale.
“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,” Bryant wrote.
She said not only had the shoe not been approved to be sold but that it wasn’t approved to be manufactured, either.
“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 @nike,” Bryant wrote.
Nike did not immediately return a request for comment from NBC News.
Bryant shared a photo that appeared to show a person holding the shoe she designed. It’s unclear who the person is and if the shoe was up for sale. In the post, Bryant asked anyone with information about the shoe to come forward.
She also shared a post to her Instagram story that showed a tweet claiming a shoe retailer in the United Kingdom called “Foot Patrol” had sold the shoe early. NBC News has reached out to Footpatrol for comment.
It would be really nice of other athletes who work with Nike for their footwear and apparel spoke out in Vanessa’s defense. This is uncalled for.
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