Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s estate will not renew contract with Nike

Bryant revealed she will "continue to fight" for Kobe fans to wear his products

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - FEBRUARY 14: A detail view of the Nike sneakers featuring a tribute to Kobe and Gianna Bryant worn by Quavo ()
Loading the player...

After the five-year endorsement extension expired this month, Vanessa Bryant and Kobe Bryant‘s estate have chosen not to renew their contract with Nike.

Per ESPN, this decision was not made lightly and came from Bryant’s frustration with Nike. Reportedly, “Bryant and the estate had grown frustrated with Nike limiting the availability of Kobe products during his retirement and after his January 2020 death in a helicopter crash. There was also frustration with the lack of availability of Kobe footwear in kids’ sizes, according to sources.”

Vanessa shared a statement with ESPN and supporters via her Instagram story, shedding light on the tough decision.

2020 NBA All-Star - Celebrity Game Presented By Ruffles
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – FEBRUARY 14: A detail view of the Nike sneakers featuring a tribute to Kobe and Gianna Bryant worn by Quavo

Read More: Vanessa Bryant shares adorable photo of daughters in Kobe Lakers jerseys

The wife of the late basketball legend shared in her statement, “Kobe’s Nike contract expired on 4/13/21. Kobe and Nike have made some of the most beautiful basketball shoes of all time, worn and adored by fans and athletes in all sports across the globe. It seems fitting that more NBA players wear my husband’s product than any other signature shoe.”

“My hope will always be to allow Kobe’s fans to get and wear his products,” Vanessa continued. “I will continue to fight for that. Kobe’s products sell out in seconds. That says everything. I was hoping to forge a lifelong partnership with Nike that reflects my husband’s legacy. We will always do everything we can to honor Kobe and Gigi’s legacies. That will never change.”

2018 Baby2Baby Gala Presented By Paul Mitchell - Red Carpet
CULVER CITY, CA – NOVEMBER 10: Vanessa Laine Bryant (L) and Kobe Bryant attend the 2018 Baby2Baby Gala Presented by Paul Mitchell at 3LABS on November 10, 2018 in Culver City, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for Baby2Baby)

Read More: Kobe Bryant planned on leaving Nike for ‘Mamba’ shoe brand before his death: report

Nike also released a statement to ESPN regarding the end of their contract with the Kobe estate. It reads: “Kobe Bryant was an important part of Nike’s deep connection to consumers. He pushed us and made everyone around him better. Though our contractual relationship has ended, he remains a deeply loved member of the Nike family.”

Per ESPN, “It is believed that all future releases of Kobe Bryant-branded footwear and apparel manufactured by Nike will be halted.” Now free from the contract, it is possible the estate could “enter negotiations” with competing brands in the future.

Bryant originally signed with the brand in 2003, headlining the Zoom Huarache 2K4 and 2K5 sneakers and “11 signature models under the Nike Kobe series.” Bryant served as a brand representative after his retirement in 2016 from the Los Angeles Lakers.

According to ESPN, in the 2019-2020 season, “102 players wore a Kobe-branded sneaker, the most of any player’s sneaker line in the league.”

Have you subscribed to theGrio’s podcast “Dear Culture”? Download our newest episodes now!
TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and Roku. Download theGrio today!

Loading the player...