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Nike’s Kobe signature line is under new management, and Vanessa Bryant’s got some big plans.

Vanessa’s new agenda has been to launch the Mamba Program, with a goal to outfit select NCAA schools with Kobe gear. And the first school to be bestowed the honor is the University of Kentucky, paying homage to the relationship Kobe had with coach John Calipari.

Thanks to Vanessa’s UK selections, the school will now rock a bunch of Mamba-branded apparel and something coveted by many sneakerheads: player-exclusive sneakers. UK’s basketball squad will be gifted a Kobe 11 done up in Kentucky’s iconic white upper with Flyknit material that hopefully resembles a PE version that celebrated March Madness in 2016. The UK blue can be spotted in the gradient towards the heel and the blue swoosh on the medial. Kobe’s mamba logo can be seen on the tongue, and the UK initials are printed on the insoles.

Like all Kobe 11s, the left heel features four distinct red lines representing the four feet of thread it took to repair Kobe’s achilles after he tore it in 2013. The shoes sit atop an icy blue outsole, and the team will get their hands on them just in time for the 2023-24 season.

This isn’t the first time the school has been involved with the Bryant’s since Kobe’s tragic death in 2020. In honor of Kobe and Gigi’s love for the game of basketball, the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation gifted the team Mambacita Kobe 4s during Kentucky’s trip to Toronto’s GLOBL Jam.

Coach Calipari received a more personal gift of a Gigi Bryant jersey and a copy of Kobe’s 2018 book The Mamba Mentality: How I Play.

Natalia Bryant, Kobe’s eldest daughter, presented Calipari with the gift, and the coach shared how moving it was to spend time with her.

“It was such an honor to spend time with Natalia Bryant this weekend. Her passion for people and her commitment to honoring Kobe & Gigi’s legacy were a joy to witness. I have no doubt that she is going to continue to leave her mark on this world and create her own lasting legacy!” he tweeted at the time.

Vanessa Bryant has been pretty busy with the Kobe brand lately, as she’s debuting the Kobe 8 as a Protro model in an all-white colorway.

The uniqueness of the Protro term– which Kobe coined– takes some of his iconic silhouettes from years past and updates the inner technologies to today’s standards.

The all-white Kobe 8 will be dubbed “Halo,” and a new pair will drop each year on Kobe’s birthday, Aug. 23. You’ll be able to cop the clean colorway on SNKRS and at select global retailers.

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