In the aftermath of Kobe Bryant’s death, his widow, Vanessa Bryant, has had a tumultuous relationship with Nike. According to E Online, Vanessa and Nike are still at odds after an unreleased version of the MAMBACITA sneakers appeared online.
Vanessa, along with Nike, was designing the Kobe 6 Protro to honor her husband and daughter Gianna who tragically lost their lives on Jan. 26, 2020.
“This is a shoe I worked on in honor of my daughter, Gianna," Vanessa explained on Instagram. "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."
“The MAMBACITA shoes are NOT approved for sale. I wanted it to be sold to honor my daughter with ALL of the proceeds benefiting our @mambamambacitasports foundation but I did not re-sign the Nike contract to sell these shoes,” Vanessa continued. "(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."
Vanessa expressed her confusion and outrage over people having possession of the shoes that shouldn’t have been made available in stores without her consent.
"I do not know how someone else has their hands on shoes I designed in honor of my daughter, Gigi and we don't," she wrote. "I hope these shoes did not get sold. @nike."
Vanessa also posted a photo to her story that someone had shared of the shoes being worn.
"How/Why is someone wearing my daughter's shoe? This isn't right," she said.
To add insult to injury, Vanessa claims that Nike never sent her the prototypes of the sneakers.
"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 added.
According to TMZ, brandon1an, an Instagram user, first posted photos of the "Mambacita" shoes almost three weeks ago, and said that an official Nike distributor leaked the images.
"I just want to make it clear that I don't own a pair of those Mambacita Kobes," the user wrote.
"The pictures I posted are official product pictures from a Nike authorized retailer,” he continued.
Recently, Vanessa announced that Kobe's estate would not renew its endorsement partnership with Nike which expired on April 13, 2021.
According to reports from ESPN, Vanessa grew frustrated over Nike’s limited availability of Kobe's products during his retirement and after his passing.