Open in App
USA TODAY Sports Media Group

Why Vanessa Bryant gifted Angel Reese and LSU with rare Kobe sneakers for their Elite Eight showdown

By Mitchell Northam,


Folks that watched LSU’s women’s basketball team beat Miami on Sunday in Greenville, South Carolina in the Elite Eight might’ve noticed this greenish glow coming from the feet of the victorious Tigers.

All-American forward Angel Reese and most of her teammates weren’t wearing purple or gold kicks to match LSU’s uniform. Instead, they were wearing the iconic Kobe 6 Grinches. The shoes were launched on Christmas Day 2010 in a colorway that resembled green apple, but they also feature green scales and a black Nike swoosh, akin to the green mamba snakes that have deep and dark black eyes. The late, great Kobe Bryant’s nickname was, of course, the Black Mamba.

On the online sneaker shop GOAT, a pair of Grinches ranges from $700 to $3,500, depending on size.

The exclusive shoes brought some good fortune to LSU. Despite posting a season-low scoring total, the Tigers beat the upset-minded Hurricanes by 12 points to advance to their first Final Four since 2008. Reese tallied her 32nd double-double in the victory, the most ever in a single season by an SEC player.

Fans might have wondered, how did LSU’s players get their hands on those shoes?

The answer is Vanessa Bryant. Kobe’s widow shipped boxes of the sneakers to the Tigers the day before their Elite Eight clash.

Reese later told For The Win that Vanessa is a fan of LSU women’s basketball. And this wasn’t the first time this season that she had sent shoes to the Tigers. Earlier this year, Vanessa sent the team the Nike Kobe 6 Protro Mabacita Sweet 16, which were made in honor of Kobe and Vanessa’s daughter, Gigi. But the team opted not to sport those in a game.

Kobe and Gigi died in a helicopter crash in California on Jan. 26, 2020.

“We decided not to wear those, because of course, Gigi,” Reese said. “We value her in her death.”

Getting the Grinches on the eve of the Elite Eight wasn’t something the Tigers were expecting, but they were elated to receive them and happy to wear them.

“We were super surprised,” Reese said. “We love Kobes. We always want Kobes. They’re really hard to come by now.”

Reese later explained that Vanessa’s fandom for LSU is really through the team’s head coach, Kim Mulkey. She and Kobe were inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame together in the same class in 2021 – not long after Mulkey left Baylor, where she had won three national championships, for LSU.

At the Hall of Fame ceremony, Mulkey and the Bryant family struck up a friendship.

“She’s cool with Coack Kim,” Reese said. “She’s a fan… The shoes were fire. We got the win.”

LSU will play the winner of No. 1 Virginia Tech and No. 3 Ohio State at the Final Four in Dallas.

Reese says the team probably won’t wear the Grinches again.

“We’re going to get a new pair,” Reese said. “We’re Final Four bound now… I’m going to text Vanessa.”

Perhaps she can hook the Tigers up with some purple and gold Kobes, matching the colors of both LSU and Bryant’s Lakers.

Expand All
Comments / 0
Add a Comment
Local California State newsLocal California State
Most Popular newsMost Popular

Comments / 0