Sneakerheads can breathe easier now: Vanessa Bryant has reached an agreement to restart Nike’s production of shoes and gear under her late husband’s name.
Production of Nike’s Kobe Bryant sneakers went dormant last year when Vanessa Bryant and the company couldn’t reach an agreement to extend the contract after it expired posthumously for Kobe Bryant. The basketball icon, along with daughter Gianna and seven others, died in a February 2020 helicopter crash.
The new deal will see Nike not only release up to 17 sneakers inspired by Kobe Bryant from during his career and after his retirement , but also a line inspired by Gianna, who was nicknamed “Mambacita” after her father’s “Black Mamba” moniker. The first shoe in that collection, the Kobe 6 Protro “Mambacita Sweet 16”, will have all proceeds go towards the Mamba and Mambacita sports foundation, named for Kobe and Gianna, which supports young athletes.
Financial terms of the new deal weren’t disclosed, Kobe Bryant’s shoes are among the most iconic and best-selling sneakers Nike has ever produced. The Nike Zoom Kobe 6 “Grinch” sneaker, a classic shoe that Bryant wore in a game on Christmas Day in 2010, sold out in minutes when Nike re-released them last April 13, the final day under the old Nike contract. Afterwards, the value of that shoe on online sneaker marketplaces shot up to as much as $600, according to Sportico.
There were also reports of sneakerheads hoarding the iconic shoes.
Nearly 20% of NBA players have worn a Nike Kobe sneaker for a game since Bryant, along with his daughter, Gianna, and seven others died in a January 2020 helicopter crash. During the 2019-20 season, 102 of the 322 total players competing in the league’s restart at the Walt Disney World Resort wore a Kobe sneaker.