Vanessa Bryant wants answers from Nike about leaked Mambacita shoes

Kobe and Vanessa Bryant in 2017
Kobe and Vanessa Bryant in 2017.
(Nick Ut / Associated Press)

Nike has some explaining to do.

Vanessa Bryant posted on Instagram early Thursday, upset that a pair of sneakers she worked on with the athletic wear giant in honor of her daughter Gianna were released to the public without her consent.

The shoes were supposed to be called “Mambacita” after Gigi’s nickname and have “an exclusive black and white colorway on her daddy’s shoes,” the Nike Kobe 6 Protro. They have gold detailing, including Kobe and Gigi’s names on the back and her number 2 on the sides.

Bryant explains that she wanted to sell the shoes with the proceeds going to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation and ultimately didn’t give the green light for the shoes to be sold after she didn’t re-sign her husband’s contract with Nike.

“The MAMBACITA shoes are NOT approved for sale,” she said, adding that “The MAMBACITA shoes were not approved to be made in the first place.”

Kobe Bryant’s contract with Nike has expired, opening the door for his name and likeness to be used elsewhere.

April 20, 2021


Bleacher Report Kicks shared an image on Twitter of the sneakers Wednesday, calling them the Nike Kobe 6 Protro “Mamba Forever” colorway and saying they will be released “later this year.” Last month, a handful of sneaker sites reported on the shoes, sharing photos of the final product and saying they were expected to be released this summer. These photos came from a “sneaker sleuth” social media account by the name of @brand1an, who commented Thursday after Bryant shared her frustration with the leak.

“[C]onsidering my first look was from a Tier 0 Nike retailer, this isn’t exactly a great look as it’s clear Nike intended on selling these,” he posted on Twitter.

In her post, Vanessa Bryant shares a photo of an unidentified person holding one of the Mambacita shoes, showing that Nike apparently didn’t stay true to its word about canning the project. People in the comments said a sneaker shop in the United Kingdom called Footpatrol had released the shoes for a raffle that was supposed to be for the Kobe 6 Protro Del Sol colorway.

The Kobe 6 Protro Mamba Forever shoes are also available on resale websites GOAT and Flight Club. Two pair are available for $1,500 and $1,800, respectively.

Bryant asked in her post why the shoes were released to the public without her consent and why she and her three other daughters don’t have the shoes.

Vanessa Bryant posted video of her ecstatic daughter Natalia celebrating her acceptance to USC. The late Kobe Bryant was a Trojans supporter.

March 31, 2021

“Nike has NOT sent any of these pairs to me and my girls,” she said. “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, GOAT and Footpatrol had not responded to inquiries from The Times before this post was published.