Nike and the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation (MMSF) have announced a partnership to honor the late Kobe and Gianna Bryant with special shoes for the 2023-24 college basketball season.
- Nike collaborates with MMSF to honor Kobe and Gianna through college basketball shoes.
- Top colleges embrace Kobe and Gianna’s Nike footwear.
- Vanessa Bryant expresses her gratitude for university support.
- Shoe designs for the partnership remain a mystery.
- Nike’s Kobe Brand commemorates the Bryants with special designs.
- A tribute to Kobe, Gianna, and others lost in a tragic crash.
- Kobe’s strong ties to colleges like Duke and UConn remembered.
- MMSF empowers young athletes with a positive mission.
- The partnership celebrates Kobe and Gianna’s legacy on the basketball court.
Several universities that sport Nike basketball gear will wear Kobe and Gianna Bryant Nike shoes as part of the partnership. The universities are Duke, Kentucky, LSU, UConn, USC, and Oregon. These schools have a history of excellence in basketball and a connection with the Bryant family.
Vanessa Bryant, the widow of Kobe Bryant and the president of MMSF, expressed her gratitude and excitement for the support of these prestigious universities. “We are grateful for the amazing support of these prestigious universities…to further the legacies of Kobe and Gigi,” Vanessa Bryant said. “So excited to see their players wearing Kobe and Gigi’s NIKE shoes this upcoming season!!”
The shoe design that the teams will wear is still a mystery, but Vanessa Bryant and Nike reached a deal for new Kobe Brand products in March 2022 after her late husband’s contract with the company ended in April 2021.
Nike relaunched the Kobe Brand this summer and released the Nike Kobe 8 Protro Halo shoes on Aug. 23, which is Bryant’s birthday. Vanessa Bryant worked with Nike to create the Halo concept, which features a halo-shaped logo on the tongue and a purple-and-gold color scheme.
Nike also launched the Kobe 4 Protro “Mamabacita” shoes in May, which feature a butterfly motif and a black-and-white color scheme. The shoes were designed to honor Gianna’s nickname and her love of basketball. Gianna was an aspiring basketball player who dreamed of playing for UConn and in the WNBA.
Kobe, his daughter Gianna, and seven others were killed in a tragic helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, in January 2020. Their lives have been honored in a number of ways since, such as renaming a street near Staples Center as Kobe Bryant Boulevard, unveiling a mural of Kobe and Gianna at their alma mater Lower Merion High School, and inducting Kobe into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
While Kobe did not attend college, opting to make the jump from high school to the NBA, he had a strong connection with several of the universities that will wear his shoes. He was coached by Mike Krzyzewski at Duke during his time with Team USA, winning two gold medals in 2008 and 2012. He was also a mentor and friend to women’s basketball star Paige Bueckers at UConn, who won the national championship and the Wooden Award as a freshman in 2021.
The MMSF is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating positive impact for underserved athletes and boys & girls in sports, founded through the vision and loving memory of Kobe and Gianna Bryant. The foundation aims to provide funding and programs for sports education, training, mentorship, and empowerment for young women in sports.
The partnership between Nike and MMSF is expected to raise awareness and funds for the foundation’s mission, as well as celebrate the legacy of Kobe and Gianna Bryant on the court.