Vanessa Bryant Comments on Leaked Nike Shoes Honoring Gigi; Hopes They Weren't Sold

Adam WellsJune 3, 2021

UNCASVILLE, CT - MAY 15: Enshrinee Vanessa Bryant addresses the guests during the 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony on May 15, 2021 at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Leaked images of a Nike shoe honoring Gigi Bryant weren't approved by Vanessa Bryant, who said she designed the shoe but decided against selling the shoes. 

After an Instagram user posted an image of the shoes and claimed they will be released this summer, Vanessa Bryant issued a statement on the social-media platform saying they "are NOT approved for sale" and she hopes they don't get sold by Nike: 

"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. ... 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."

Bryant noted she worked on the design of the Mambacita shoe, including selecting the colors, inside pattern and a No. 2 in honor of Gigi's basketball jersey. 

However, when Vanessa and the Bryant estate elected not to renew their contract with Nike in April, she also decided not to sell the sneakers and they "were not approved to be made in the first place." 

Per ESPN's Nick DePaula, Vanessa and the Bryant estate didn't re-sign with Nike because of frustration with the apparel company "limiting the availability of Kobe products during his retirement and after his January 2020 death in a helicopter crash."

DePaula added the estate was also frustrated with the lack of kids' sizes for Kobe's signature sneakers. 

Kobe Bryant originally signed a contract with Nike in 2003 after spending the first six seasons of his NBA career with Adidas. The Los Angeles Lakers legend signed a five-year extension with Nike in 2016 shortly after the announcement of his retirement.

Kobe and Gigi Bryant were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Jan. 26, 2020.