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The Kobe X for Young Athletes: Performance Basketball at Every Level

“Like my own KOBE X shoes, I try to create products that deliver performance to kids by being as light as possible, with as much cushioning as possible, and that help them change direction faster," said Kobe Bryant.

Kobe X
Kobe X for Young Athletes

Designed to deliver flexibility, quickness and durability, the KOBE X shoe for young athletes includes many of the features of Bryant’s adult version while meeting the unique footwear needs of grade schoolers, preschoolers and toddlers.

“Nike is focused on designing performance footwear for young athletes that helps unlock their athletic potential,” said Michael Sarantakos, Nike Senior Footwear Designer for Young Athletes. “The KOBE X is tuned with innovative features that deliver great court feel, quickness and flexibility for the younger player at each development level.” 

Kobe X for Young Athletes

Kobe X for Young Athletes

Kobe X for Young Athletes


The KOBE X includes a hybrid cushioning system that combines Cushlon with a new Zoom Air unit that has a Nike Free-inspired outsole to enhance natural movement. This trio leads to a responsive ride that is a great combination of firm, soft and flexible. 

The midsole is encapsulated in a translucent TPU casing and rubber outsole to visually showcase the inner technology. This transparent approach was inspired by Bryant’s willingness to personally open up and reveal more of himself at deeper levels without reservation.  


The outsole traction and grip of a basketball shoe can make or break its on-court performance. The KOBE X was developed under Nike’s four-part formula to evaluate the effectiveness of traction: surface type (indoor, outdoor or both), design pattern, surface ratio and rubber composition.

The KOBE X features what could be considered the most effective traction system in the 43-year history of Nike’s basketball shoes.

The outsole features hundreds of “nodes” that grip the court, similar to the intricacy of the treads on performance racecar tires, which grip and splay at high speeds. The new traction system works in tandem with the midsole cushioning to splay, flex and grip the court for zero distractions and maximum grip like performance tires on a track.

The outsole is finished with a gold Roman numeral “X” embedded beneath the Zoom unit; it’s another example of the detailed design obsession brought to each KOBE shoe.


Advanced textiles offer lightweight breathability and are more durable and strong than traditional mesh. The KOBE X introduces a new open-weave textile inspired by the pattern and strength of sharkskin. 

The shoe’s tongue features a mamba-inspired snake scale pattern, while the inside of the shoe has a mesh bootie to enhance ventilation and provides a comfortable, snug fit. 

Each left heel displays four red lines representing Bryant’s resilient return from surgery on his left Achilles tendon – doctors used four feet of stitching in surgery. The KOBE sheath logo adorns the right heel of each shoe.


Each KOBE X colorway tells a story that reflects Bryant’s drive and determination. The lead colorway for adults and young athletes, 5 AM Flight, takes inspiration from Bryant’s 40-foot, early-morning leap from a diving board in August 2013. The experience wasn’t just about high diving; it’s symbolic of Bryant’s resilience to overcome the odds and face fear head-on. The shoe’s blue palette represents the pool water of Bryant’s 5 a.m. flight. 


At this age, a young athlete’s game and skills are accelerating, and their rapid improvement requires a shoe with flexibility, traction and cushioning that is also lightweight for court speed. The KOBE X delivers that performance.


These young athletes are just learning the game while beginning to hone their coordination. The Pre-school KOBE X provides the outstanding flexibility and durability that kids need in a shoe they wear to the classroom and playground, as well as the court.


The toddler-sized KOBE X features a soft, flexible upper to support the natural motion of toddlers’ growing feet. The lacing system and modified ankle collar give the feel of a locked-down fit. The lower-profile full rubber cup sole enhances flexibility, and gets the athlete lower to the ground to provide a stable base and greater traction.


A KOBE X apparel collection for grade school athletes will hook to the color palettes and graphics of the five upcoming footwear colorways. Specifically, the new Kobe HyperElite hoodie features advanced apparel technology: interior stretch-mesh to increase range of motion, Therma-FIT fleece fabric for warmth and a scooped, loose-fit hem for extra movement.

Kobe X Apparel for Young Athletes

Kobe X for Young Athletes

Kobe X Apparel for Young Athletes


The KOBE X 5 AM Flight and coordinated apparel will be available globally in adult and young athlete sizes at and select retail locations on Feb. 7. The remaining four colorways of the KOBE X will be introduced in the coming weeks.