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Vanessa Bryant, Kobe Bryant Estate Elect Not to Renew Partnership with Nike

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A source says Vanessa Bryant and Kobe Bryant’s estate became frustrated with Nike after the company limited the availability of Kobe products during his retirement and after his January 2020 death.

What We Know:

  • Vanessa told ESPN the contract ended on April 13. According to sources, Nike presented the estate an extension offer. However, Vanessa and the estate expected an ongoing “lifetime” contract like Lebron James and Michael Jordan, something the shoe company did not introduce.
  • Regardless, some of the memorable aspects of the Nike partnership stay with Kobe’s estate, such as the “Mamba” logo and his signature. The “Sheath” logo often featured on the sneakers’ tongues is mutually owned by both sides.
  • Kobe signed his first contract with Nike in 2003. His partnership with the business “created an impactful partnership with the brand that extended into the remainder of his Hall of Fame career.” Some of his more notable sneaker headlines include the Zoom Huarache 2K4 and 2K5, the Hyperdunk, and 11 signature models. Nike launched Kobe 4 during Kobe’s 2008-2009 championship season with the Los Angeles Lakers; this made players across the National Basketball Association (NBA) wear low tops.
  • After playing his last NBA game on April 13, 2016, he scored 60 points. Nike signed a five-year endorsement extension contract. They dubbed the date “Mamba Day” in an extravagant farewell campaign. During his retirement, Kobe released a series of both old and new sneakers. He said he wanted his “Protro” shoes to upgrade his older designs with modern constructions and technologies. Some of them that have been re-released is the Kobe 1, 4, 5, and 6. Therefore, the new models would be ” a pro-level, updated retro edition of his past sneakers.”

“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,” Nike said in a statement to ESPN.

  • Before his untimely death, Kobe explored the possibility of making his own Mamba brand upon the expiration of the deal. He even met with a creative agency to potentially help design and execute future products.
  • Vanessa also recognized Kobe’s impact on the brand. On her Instagram story, she posted a screenshot of the ESPN article. She then made another post on her story in which she explained the contract’s ending. She wrote that Kobe and Nike made “some of the most beautiful” basketball shoes. Additionally, she stated that more NBA players wear Kobe’s products than any other shoe. Vanessa hopes Kobe’s fans will always have the chance to obtain and wear his products and continue fighting for them. She even mentioned her disappointment in not having a lifelong contract.

“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,” she concluded.

  • Nike will likely halt all future releases of Kobe Bryant-branded footwear and apparel, ESPN reports. The estate could also enter into negotiations with outside brands and form a new partnership. Many NBA players have paid tribute to Kobe by wearing his shoes. Some have even redesigned their own player-exclusive colorways of Kobe Protro models to uphold his sneaker legacy. These include Devin Booker, P.J. Tucker, DeMar DeRozan, Buddy Hield, Isaiah Thomas, and others. Throughout the NBA bubble, 102 players wore Kobe-branded sneakers, making it the most of any player’s shoe line in the league. In addition, Laker guards Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Talen Horton-Tucker wore pairs of Kobe’s shoes against the Utah Jazz on Monday; they declared they intend to keep doing so in future games.
  • Kobe died in a helicopter accident alongside his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, her teammates, their family members, and the pilot. The group was headed to Gianna’s basketball game on Kobe’s private helicopter. In February, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) ruled that pilot error was the most significant reason for the crash. The NTSB also claimed that  Ara Zobayan made a “poor decision” to fly at an excessive airspeed, approximately 160 miles per hour, into an area with low visibility. Kobe was 41. The other passengers included Payton Chester, 13; Sarah Chester, 45; Alyssa Altobelli, 14; Keri Altobelli, 46; John Altobelli, 56; Christina Mauser, 38; and Zobayan, 50.

Nike quickly sold out of Kobe’s clothing and shoes after his tragic death last year. Last February, the company released a touching commercial to commemorate Kobe’s legacy. It highlighted various moments from the basketball player’s career via various audio recordings. The commercial ended with the words “Mamba Forever.” Despite the end of an almost two-year partnership, Kobe will always have a tremendous influence on the company’s history and image.

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Headlines

Black Women Lead Initiative to Raise $100M for Black Girls and Women in the South

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The Southern Black Girls and Women’s Consortium is looking to raise $100 million in the next 10 years.

What We Know:

  • LaTosha Brown is one of the notable activists responsible for having a hand in turning Georgia into a blue state last election cycle. Brown is the co-founder of Black Votes Matter, the Black Voters Matter Fund, and the Black Voters Matter Capacity Building Institute. Another community that is joining this effort is Margo Miller. Miller is a Tennessee native is the executive director of the Appalachian Community Fund.
  • The Appalachian Community Fund is a non-profit looking to counter poverty and improve the lives of residents of Central Appalachia. Both Brown and Miller want to empower others to continue in their footsteps. Another member of the Southern Black Girls and Women Consortium is Felecia Lucky, who is the president of the Black Belt Community Foundation. Executive director of the Fund for Southern Communities, Alice Jenkins, is also a member.
  • The consortium has given itself the task of raising $100 million for Black women and girls over the next decade. As of today, they have already raised $10 million of that total and are in the process of raising more. Some of the funds have already been distributed to organizations in the form of grants. The group hosted a chat via their Twitter account, @Blackgirlsdream, on March 31st to discuss the state of women of color.
  • In an interview with theGrio, Brown expressed that their focus was on the South because the majority of Black people live in the South. The group of women designed listening sessions to learn Black Girl’s perceptions about themselves, their needs, their dreams, and the resources they need. The group then used this information to design funding approaches that ensure a fair distribution of funds.

The group hopes that their work will result in a shift in how Black girls in the South see themselves.

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Kansas Coach Fired for Using N-Word Toward Black Player

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The head baseball coach at Olathe North Highschool in Kansas has now been fired after using the N-word toward a Black player.

What We Know:

  • The father of student Tony Banks commented that he believes head coach Pete Flood was attempting to “derail” his son’s successful athletic career. Flood is now officially terminated from teaching in Olathe Public Schools after being suspended for a time period. The District recommended Flood’s termination on Friday. On Monday, the District board voted to fire him unanimously.
  • Banks’ son is the only Black player on Olathe North Highschools’ baseball team. His son was allegedly playing rap music during practice when Flood said to him, “We don’t play that N– music over here. We only play country and rock music.”
  • The coach claimed he was only referring to the music’s lyrics and not the student’s race. He goes on to say that he has never called anyone a racial slur in his 25 years of teaching nor in his personal life.
  • Flood has expressed regret in saying the N-word aloud but doesn’t regret telling the student to change the music. Banks expressed, “We really wanted to move beyond this. We’re not attention seekers.”
  • Olathe School Board President Joe Beveridge called Flood’s actions “inexcusable.” The Board of Education met in a special board meeting on Monday morning to discuss the situation. The conversation that took place wasn’t in doubt because there is no justification for a coach to talk to any student in that manner. Banks called other parents to contact Principal Janson Hermanon and Athletic Director Josh Price for Flood’s removal. Flood had been employed in the school district since 1996.

Pete Flood started as Olathe North’s head baseball coach at the beginning of this school year.

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Crime

7 People Dead In Colorado Birthday Party Shooting

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According to authorities, a lone gunman opened fire at a birthday party on Sunday, killing six before killing himself.

What We Know:

  • Shortly after midnight, the shooting took place in a mobile home park on the east side of Colorado Springs. Officers responded to a call at 12:18 a.m. and arrived at the trailer to find six adults dead, according to NPR. Another man with serious injuries was found who later died at the hospital.
  • In what Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers called “a senseless act of violence,” the shooter entered the mobile home and opened fire. Family friends and children were gathered inside the trailer, but no children were hurt in the shooting. Police say the suspected shooter was the boyfriend of one of the female guests at the party.
  • Gladis Bustos, who lives near where the shooting happened, described the night as quiet before the commotion happened. Bustos said the incident was “a bad, traumatic experience for everyone.” Another neighbor, Denise Knoll, was left speechless by the events. “There’s not really any words, you know? Why people do things like this, I just don’t get it,” said Knoll to NBC.
  • Colorado Gov. Jared Polis called the Mother’s Day shooting “devastating,” offering his condolences to the victims’ families. Colorado Springs Police Chief Vince Niski said in a statement a shooting of this kind is something you hope never happens in your community and that the police department would do everything in its power to investigate what happened.
  • The tragic incident in Colorado Springs is the first mass shooting in the state since March. During that incident, ten people were killed when a gunman walked into a grocery store and opened fire. The 1999 shooting at Columbine High School remains one of the most notable mass shootings in the state and nation’s history.

The identities of those killed in the shooting have not yet been released, and the investigation is ongoing. Colorado Springs is the second-largest city in the state after Denver.

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