Since the tragic death of Kobe Bryant, Vanessa Bryant has been fiercely protective of his legacy. In doing so, she’s gone to war with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and bumped heads with Nike. So when sneakers she designed to honor her late husband and daughter Gianna leaked online on Wednesday, Vanessa took to Instagram to unleash her righteous rage.
As Vanessa explains it, she helped conceptualize the Mambacita sneakers for Nike. But with Kobe’s estate recently severing its long-standing relationship with the athletic shoe and apparel juggernaut, the expectation was that this colorway of the Kobe 6 Protro would never see the light of day. However, greed had other plans.
“This is a shoe I worked on in honor of my daughter, Gianna,” Vanessa wrote. “It was going to be called the MAMBACITA shoe as an exclusive black and white colorway on her daddy’s shoes. [...] The MAMBACITA shoes are NOT approved for sale.”
She then goes on to explain that the sneakers included features such as wings and butterflies to honor Gianna and all proceeds were intended to go to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation. She also revealed that neither she nor her daughters have received any of the shoes.
Per TMZ, adding fuel to the flames is Instagram user @brandon1an, who posted professional photos of the Mambacita sneakers weeks ago and insists that yes, Nike is behind the leak.
“The pictures I posted are official product pictures from a Nike authorized retailer,” he wrote on Instagram. “Unfortunately for [Vanessa Bryant], Nike clearly sent pairs to this retailer (as well as others) with the intent of selling pairs. Please don’t direct your hate towards me—I’m basically just the news guy. Nike is the one handling Kobe’s death in a very insensitive and poor manner.”
That’s one way to describe it.
On Twitter, fans of the Lakers legend are standing behind Vanessa and joining her in calling out Nike for being so incredibly callous.
The amount of pain and grief that Vanessa has endured over the past year and change, coupled with the global pandemic, must be unfathomable. So to find out that something that she created as a conduit for that pain has been distributed without her authorization is some truly foul shit.
Nike has yet to release a statement addressing the matter, but the entire world is all ears. They absolutely have some explaining to do.