Nike honors Gianna Bryant on her 16th birthday with touching tribute, shoe release

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Nike paid tribute to Gianna Bryant on Sunday, what would have been her 16th birthday.

Taking out a full-page ad and launching a video titled, “Dear Gianna,” Nike honored Kobe Bryant’s daughter ahead of her new shoe release, the “Mambacita Sweet 16.”

"From the first time you imagined winning a WNBA championship, I knew one thing was real: You were special,” the video says, meant to be a love letter from basketball.

“You came from greatness, but it was never about what you inherited. It was about what you gave to others. When someone stands up for gender equality, I see you fighting alongside them. And every time someone plays her hardest, I know that's you on the court. Love you always, Basketball.”

Gigi, Kobe and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash in Southern California in 2020. Gigi had dreams of reaching the WNBA, and was even an honorary draft pick, along with two of her teammates, in the months after their death. The league has since launched the Kobe & Gigi Bryant WNBA Advocacy Award, meant to honor those who advocate for both the WNBA and women’s basketball — something Kobe was extremely passionate about after his playing career ended. The league awarded the inaugural award to Phoenix Suns star Chris Paul earlier this year.

The new “Mambacita Sweet 16” shoe is the first under Nike’s new deal with the Bryant Estate. All profits will go directly to the Mamba and Mambacita Foundation. The shoes are actually extremely hard to get. It was only released to users in the SNKRS app or to select Nike members in the Southern California area, and resale values skyrocketed immediately.

A statue of Kobe and Gianna Bryant
The ‘Mambacita Sweet 16’ shoes dropped on Sunday, which would have been Gianna Bryant's 16th birthday. (Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images)
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