Vanessa Bryant questions Nike after photos appear to show unauthorized ‘Mambacita’ shoes

National News

US basketball player Kobe Bryant and wife Vanessa Laine Bryant attend the 2019 Vanity Fair Oscar Party following the 91st Academy Awards at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills on February 24, 2019. (Photo by Jean-Baptiste LACROIX / AFP) (Photo by JEAN-BAPTISTE LACROIX/AFP via Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Vanessa Bryant is confronting Nike after photos surfaced online of a custom shoe she calls “Mambacita,” that she said was not approved for sale.

The black-and-white sneakers, marked with her gold number 2 on the side, were designed by Bryant in honor of her daughter, Gianna, who died at age 14 in the helicopter crash that also killed her husband Kobe and seven others.

Details like the 2, the inside pattern and symbols like a butterfly, wings and halo were all inspired by Gianna, and the shoes were originally meant to be sold with all proceeds benefitting the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation, Vanessa wrote in an Instagram post.

“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,” she added.

Twitter user and self-identified “sneaker-sleuth” brandon1an posted photos back in May of what looks like the same shoes in Vanessa’s post. He tweeted that they were called Nike Kobe 6 Protro “MAMBA FOREVER.”

“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,” Vanessa’s Instagram post ended.

The contract Kobe had with Nike expired in April 2021. Vanessa and the Kobe Bryant estate decided not to renew it, ESPN reported.

She’s not just looking to Nike for answers, but asking anyone who has the physical shoes in their possession how they got them.

Nexstar’s KRON4 has reached out to Nike for a statement and will update this story when it arrives.

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