Change is afoot for the future of Kobe Bryant's shoe line.
Nike has ended its contract with Vanessa Bryant and Kobe's estate following a long relationship with the late NBA legend, E! News has learned. On Monday, April 19, the shoe company issued a statement to E! News, confirming they're parting ways.
"Kobe Bryant was an important part of Nike's deep connection to consumers," read the message. "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."
Vanessa posted a statement to her Instagram Story on April 19 stating that the contract with Nike had expired on April 13, 2021 and that the partnership led to "some of the most beautiful basketball shoes" ever made.
"My hope will always be to allow Kobe's fans to get and wear his products," she wrote. "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."
Kobe, who died tragically in a helicopter crash with 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant and seven other individuals on Jan. 26, 2020, first signed with Nike in 2003. He was a major brand representative even after his NBA retirement in 2016.
In December 2020, CBS Sports cited a tweet from entrepreneur Shervin Pishevar, who claimed Kobe told him in December 2019 that the star intended to move on from Nike and launch his own shoe line. E! News has reached out to Vanessa for comment about this claim and has not heard back.
On April 18, Vanessa took to Instagram to share a photo from the couple's wedding day to mark the 20th anniversary of their marriage. "Happy Anniversary, baby," the 38-year-old model captioned the shot. "I love you. 20 years. @kobebryant."
At the time, she also posted a video of herself and Kobe kissing. "My wife Vanessa, it's fun," Kobe said in the footage. "We have a good time together. I love her tremendously. But we're best friends, too. It's a blessing."