Nike has denied removing Kobe Bryant-related products from its online store following the death of the professional basketball player on Jan. 26.
The U.S. multinational corporation had reportedly pulled items from Bryant’s range from its website while it reevaluated its ongoing strategy on how to handle the release of his signature shoe series, ESPN reported.
However, a spokesperson for Nike told The Epoch Times that it has not pulled any Bryant products from its website.
Currently, a search for “Kobe Bryant” on the site now directs the user to a statement in tribute to Bryant, who signed a sneaker endorsement deal with the company in 2003.
“Along with millions of athletes and fans throughout the world, we are devastated by today’s tragic news. We extend our deepest sympathies to those closest to Kobe and Gianna, especially their family and friends,” it reads.
“As we are learning more details of the accident and the others who have tragically lost their lives, our heartfelt sympathies go out to everyone involved and impacted.”
“Kobe was one of the greatest athletes of his generation and has had an immeasurable impact on the world of sport and the community of basketball. He was a beloved member of the Nike family. We will miss him greatly. Mamba forever.”
Bryant, 41, was one of nine people killed on Jan. 26 when the helicopter they were traveling in crashed in Calabasas, Calif. His 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, also was among those who died.
The other victims have been named by officials as assistant girl’s basketball coach Christina Mauser, Orange Coast College head baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri, and their daughter Alyssa, who was reportedly a teammate of Gianna Bryant.
Bryant and his daughter had been on their way to the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks for a basketball game scheduled for Sunday. Gianna was expected to play in the game, and Bryant was expected to coach, according to Lady Mavericks’ team director Evelyn Morales.
The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are investigating the crash, the FAA said on Twitter.
There was extremely low visibility at the time of the crash, and conditions were foggy and cloudy with drizzle, according to CNN Meteorologist Michael Guy.
Born in Philadelphia, Bryant started playing basketball when he was 3 years old and went on to become one of the NBA’s greatest champions. He was drafted straight out of Lower Merion High School near Philadelphia in 1996. He was the youngest player in NBA history at that time, at 18 years, 2 months, and 11 days.
Bryant, the son of former NBA player Joe Bryant, played his entire professional career with the Los Angeles Lakers and won five NBA championships as well as two Olympic gold medals for men’s basketball.
The athlete retired in April 2016 after scoring 60 points in his final game. He is survived by his wife of more than 20 years, Vanessa, 37, and their daughters, 17-year-old Natalia, 3-year-old Bianka, and Capri, who is just seven months.