Vanessa Bryant says an Instagram user posted a never-before-seen Nike sneaker designed to honor her late husband and daughter

  • Vanessa Bryant said on Instagram that she designed a Nike shoe to honor her late husband and daughter.
  • The sneaker was never released, but Bryant said an Instagram user somehow got a pair.
  • In January 2020, Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, died in a helicopter crash.

Vanessa Bryant called out Nike after saying an Instagram user posted a photo of a never-before-seen shoe she designed to honor her late daughter, Gianna, and her late husband, Kobe Bryant.

In a lengthy statement posted to her Instagram, Vanessa said the shoes “weren’t approved” for sale and she hoped Nike didn’t sell them.

“I wanted it sold to honor my daughter and all proceeds will benefit our @mambamambacitasports foundation, but I have not re-signed the Nike contract and have decided not to sell the shoes,” wrote Vanessa in her post Wednesday night, also tagging Nike. Vanessa did not indicate who apparently got a pair of shoes.

Kobe, a five-time NBA championship-winning basketball player with the Los Angeles Lakers, and his daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash in January 2020.

The athletic brand did not immediately return a request for comment.

A post shared by Vanessa Bryant (@vanessabryant)

Vanessa told ESPN in April that her husband’s contract with Nike expired on April 13. She ultimately decided not to re-sign the contract after expressing frustration that the company had limited the supply of Kobe’s products after his retirement, and later upon his death, according to his ESPN interview.

In Wednesday’s moving post, Vanessa said every aspect of the shoes honored a part of her daughter’s life – from the color to the interior pattern.

“It was going to be called the MAMBACITA shoe as an exclusive black and white colorway on her dad’s shoes,” she wrote in the post. “Mambacita” was a nickname given to Gianna as a nod to her father’s self-given nickname, “the Black Mamba”.

She said the shoes also honored Gianna’s basketball uniform, featuring her jersey number “2.” The names “Kobe” and “Gigi” were placed on the heels of the shoe, along with small details like a butterfly, halo and wings, the Instagram post showed.

Not only were the shoes not for sale, but Vanessa also said the company never sent any to her or her daughters. “Nike didn’t send any of these pairs to me and my daughters. I don’t know how anyone else got their hands on shoes I designed in honor of my daughter, Gigi and we don’t. Hope these shoes haven’t been sold @nike.”

In her Instagram Story, Vanessa shared a screenshot of a tweet that alleged the shoes were sold “by accident” in the UK through a retailer called Foot Patrol. The retailer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Many of Vanessa’s 15 million followers suggested in Instagram comments that the shoes might have been counterfeit, while others criticized the anonymous person who allegedly posted the photo of the unapproved sneakers.

“Disrespect on many levels,” one person commented on Instagram. On Twitter, a user wrote“Vanessa Bryant shouldn’t have to fight everyone so hard for basic respect.”

Vanessa did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

To read more stories like this, check out Insider’s digital culture coverage here.