LOOK: Vanessa Bryant hooks up Kentucky MBB with "Mambacita" shoes

Zack Geogheganby:Zack Geoghegan07/05/23


John Calipari and the late Kobe Bryant formed a special relationship together. Over three years after Bryant’s tragic passing, that bond carries on through Bryant’s family.

On Wednesday night, Kentucky men’s basketball posted a video on social media showing off a gift that the entire team received from the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded in memory of Kobe and Gianna “GiGi” Bryant. The contents? A fresh pair of the Mambacita Kobe 4 shoes for every single player on the team courtesy of Vanessa Bryant, who was married to Kobe for 19 years before his untimely death as a result of a helicopter crash in Jan. 2020.

“Because we did the camps with them and we do a lot of stuff in partner with them, so Vanessa sent a pair for everybody on the team for you guys as we get ready for Canada,” Director of Player Development TJ Beisner said in the below clip.

Back in May, Calipari received another gift from the Bryants, which was sent in honor of GiGi Bryant, the second-oldest daughter of Kobe who was also killed in the crash. It included a pair of Mambacita Kobe 4s, a Gigi Bryant jersey, and Kobe Bryant’s book, “The Mamba Mentality: How I Play.”

Calipari already wears his “PlayGigisWay” bracelet and intends to frame his new Mambacita jersey.

Kentucky hosted Natalia Bryant and the Mamba Skills Academy

Last October, Calipari and the University of Kentucky welcomed Natalia Bryant, Kobe’s oldest daughter, to campus for a basketball camp through the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation. The Mamba Skills Academy was held at Memorial Coliseum for underserved youth in the community, and the day of basketball instruction was free of charge to boys and girls.

At the time, it was the first partnership with any university noted Kat Conlon, the foundation’s executive director. You can read more about the Mamba Skills Academy’s Lexington stop in 2022.

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