The widow of late basketball star Kobe Bryant expressed her concern over the situation on Instagram on Thursday, where she posted a photo of the Nike shoe she had designed being held by a fan.
In the photo, the black-and-white sneaker can be seen bedazzled with rhinestones and animal print details.
In a statement shared as part of the post, Bryant explained that the shoe was one she had “worked on in honour of my daughter Gianna,” who died in a helicopter crash along with her father and seven others in January 2020.
According to Bryant, the shoe was going to be called the Mambacita shoe, and she had chosen the colours in honour of her daughter’s uniform, as well as other details on the shoe, such as the number two for Gianna’s jersey number and a butterfly, wings and halo inside the shoe.
“It was going to be called the Mambacita shoe as an exclusive black and white colorway on her daddy’s shoes. I picked the colours in honour of her uniform, the number two 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,” she wrote.
Bryant then went on to explain that the Mambacita shoes are “NOT approved for sale,” nor were they approved to be made, as she had wanted all of the proceeds from the design to benefit the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation, but ultimately decided not to re-sign the Kobe Bryant estate contract with Nike.
In addition to Nike allegedly making pairs of the shoes available to consumers, the mother-of-four also revealed that she and her daughters have not received the Mambacita sneakers from the athletic brand.
“Nike has NOT sent any of these pairs to me and my girls,” she wrote. “I do not know how someone else has their hands on shoes I designed in honour of my daughter, Gigi, and we don’t.
“I hope these shoes do not get sold @Nike.”
In the caption, Bryant also asked her followers for help understanding why the shoes have reportedly been available for purchase.
She wrote: “In the second photo, it appears someone already has Gigi’s Mambacita shoe in their possession. 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.”
On her Instagram Stories, Bryant reposted the concerns, as well as a screenshot of a comment from a fan who claimed that the sneakers may have been released early “by accident”.
The incident comes after Bryant revealed in April 2021 that she had decided not to renew the contract between the late basketball star’s estate and Nike.
At the time, Bryant said she had been hoping to “forge a lifelong partnership with Nike”.
The Independent has contacted Nike for comment.