Vanessa Bryant took to Instagram today where she criticized Nike for releasing a Kobe 6 Protro Mambacita sneaker (style code: CW2190-002) designed as a tribute to her husband and daughter, Kobe and Gianna Bryant, who tragically perished in a helicopter accident in January 2020.
While Vanessa took part in designing the shoe, plans for the release of the shoe were cancelled when it was announced in April that Kobe’s estate and Nike weren’t able to come to an agreement on a contract extension. Nike hasn’t commented on the release of the shoe.
In her post, Vanessa wrote, “This is a shoe I worked on in on honor of my daughter Gianna. It was going to be called the MAMBACITA as an exclusive black and white colorway on her daddy’s shoes.”
Noting that plans for the shoe were squashed when Kobe’s contract ended, she added, “The MAMBACITA shoes are NOT approved for sale. I wanted it to be sold to honor my daughter with ALL of the profits benefitting @mambamambacitasports foundation but I did not re-sign the Nike contract and decided not to sell these shoes.” Bryant also noted that Nike hadn’t sent any of the shoes to herself or her daughters.
In response to a commenter, Vanessa noted she wasn’t against having the shoe released as long as all profits were donated to the Mamba Mambacita Foundation, a non-profit sports academy founded by Kobe in 2018. Following his death, Vanessa updated the name of the organization to include a reference to Gianna.
“Nike told us that the shoes were made after I saw them posted online but they were never supposed to be sold,” she wrote. “In fact, we were discussing releasing them after all but only way I will agree is if 100% of ALL the proceeds goes to @mambamambacita sports so that Kobe and Gianna’s foundation is the only entity that benefits from selling Gigi’s MAMBACITA shoe.”
The shoe in question features a black snakeskin textured upper with a white Swoosh, laces, tongue branding and outsole. The logo for Kobe’s charity, Mambacita Sports Foundation, is printed on the heel, along with Kobe and Gigi’s name printed on the left and right shoe, respectively. As well, the number two, Gigi’s jersey number, is stamped in gold on the shoe’s lateral heel.
Photographs of the shoe first began appearing on sneaker blogs in mid May. Priced at $180, the shoe was said to be dropping sometime in summer 2021. The Mambacita crossed Vanessa’s timeline when it was sold by European sneaker chain Foot Patrol and began to show up on social media feeds. In May, Foot Patrol held a raffle for a Nike Zoom Kobe 6 Protro White Del Sol shoe but allegedly sent out the Mambacita silhouette by accident. Foot Patrol hasn’t commented on the mix up.
While the shoe wasn’t sold by any U.S. retailers, NBA Bucks player Kris Middleton recently was spotted playing in a pair. As well, pairs of the shoe were listed on StockX, which took all listings down once the story gained steam.
Providing some detail on how the shoe ended up at retail, ESPN has reported the shoes were produced at a factory in Vietnam sometime between October 28, 2020 and January 13, 2021 in anticipation of a summer 2021 release.
The article notes that sample shoes typically are created in a size nine approximately a year in advance and receive final confirmation about eight months before the planned launch date. Production is then planned five-to-eight months before the release date, a process that takes about two months to complete. As such, sample versions of the Kobe 6 Protro shoe along with full-size runs were likely available long before Kobe’s Estate chose to end its relationship with Nike in April.
Notably, the style code of the shoe Foot Patrol was supposed to send to raffle winners was CW2190-100, while the Kobe 6 Protro Mambacita style code is CW2190-002.
Check out Vanessa’s statements below.