It's the end of an era.
On Monday (April 19), the world learned that Kobe Bryant's contract had expired with Nike this month after the late basketball legend's estate chose not to renew the endorsement deal following an 18-year relationship.
"Kobe Bryant was an important part of Nike's deep connection to consumers," Nike said in a statement, per E! News. "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 Bryant also released a statement, writing on Instagram Story Monday evening, "Kobe's Nike contract expired on 4/13/21. 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."
"It seems fitting that more NBA players wear my husband's product than any other signature shoe," she continued. "My hope will always be to allow Kobe's fans to get and wear his products. I will continue to fight for that."
Vanessa added, "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 in a helicopter crash along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant and seven others in January 2020, first signed with Nike in 2003. Even after his 2016 retirement from the Los Angeles Lakers, the basketball legend continued to be a Nike brand representative.
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