WASHINGTON — The partnership between Kobe Bryant and Nike has ended, the basketball legend's wife said in a statement on Tuesday.
Vanessa Bryant said that the contract ended on April 13, 2021. Sources told ESPN that the Bryant estate had grown tired of Nike limiting products during his retirement and after his death.
Basketball star Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others were killed in January 2020 during a helicopter crash in Calabasas.
"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," Vanessa Bryant said in a statement on her Instagram story. "It seems fitting that more NBA players wear my husband's product than any other signature shoe."
She said that his products sold out in seconds, which "says everything." Vanessa Bryant added that her hope "will always be to allow Kobe fans to get and wear his product."
CBS Sports said the partnership between Kobe Bryant and Nike was first signed in 2003 after his agreement with the clothing and shoe company Adidas ended. He signed a five-year post-retirement endorsement extension in April of 2016.
"I was hoping to forge a lifelong partnership with Nike that reflects my husband's legacy," Vanessa Bryant's statement said. "We will always do everything we can to honor Kobe and Gigi's legacies. That will never change."
"Kobe Bryant was an important part of Nike's deep connection to consumers," Nike said in a statement, according to CBS Sports. "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."
In December of 2019, before his death, ESPN said Kobe was exploring creating his own Mamba brand after his deal with Nike expired.
At this point, it's unclear what the future holds for Nike Kobe sneakers, one of the longest-running sneaker lines in basketball, according to CBS Sports.