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the former Los Angeles Lakers Player Slava Medvedenko is selling two of his NBA Championship rings to raise money for his native Ukraine.
Medvedenko playing together in the Lakers championship teams in 2001 and ’02 Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neill.
SCP Auctions is donating the full final sale price of both rings to Medvedenko’s Fly High Foundation. Its goal is to support Ukrainian children by restoring the sports infrastructure of the war-torn country’s schools and starting a network of social sports clubs.
“We want to restore the gym because the Russian military bombed more than a hundred schools,” he told the Associated Press by phone on Sunday. “Our country, they need a lot of money to fix the schools. Sports gyms will be the last in line to fix it. In Ukraine, we have a winter and the kids need to play inside.”
The auction runs from Wednesday to August 5. California-based company Laguna Niguel estimates both rings will raise at least $100,000.
Medvedenko said he decided to sell the rings after visiting the roof of one of the tallest buildings in his Kyiv neighborhood and watching Russian military-launched rockets in the night sky.
“At this moment I just decided, ‘Why do I need these rings if they’re just sitting in my safe? Medvedenko said. “I just recognize that I may die. After that, I just say that I have to sell my Ukrainian people to help the children, to show leadership to the people, to help my Ukrainian people live a better life. “
Medvedenko spoke from Warsaw, Poland, where he staged a sold-out charity basketball game to raise money for Ukrainian refugees crossing the border to escape the war.
“In Ukraine, you’re just feeling like it’s war, rockets, aerial alerts. You’re used to that kind of pressure,” he said. “As soon as you cross the border and see how people lead normal lives, it’s a different world.”
The 43-year-old is married with two daughters aged 16 and 11 and a son aged 10. after russia Invading Ukraine in February, Medvedenko sent his children to live with their grandmother in another part of the country.
“After being there for 1 1/2 months, they would call me all the time and ask, ‘Dad, can we come home? We want to be with you and Mom,'” he recalled.
Five months after the war, Medvedenko has reunited his family in Kyiv.
“We have air alerts almost every day. Sometimes it’s three or four times a day,” he said. “The kids are so used to it. They play in our backyard. They don’t even stop playing, they’re used to it.”
Medvedenko has served in Regional Defense Force of Ukraine during the war.
“We were guarding our neighborhood, patrolling outposts and duty. I’m not the best solider, I’m not the best shooter, but I can support them,” he said, adding that he had an AK. was -47. “I shoot it twice, not at people. I’m glad I didn’t get a chance to shoot anyone. Our army did a great job defending Kyiv. I want to thank them.”
Medvedenko was a candidate for the Kyiv City Council in the 2020 election. He was ranked 11th in the electoral list and his party managed to win only nine seats.
Beyond his humanitarian efforts during the war, Medvedenko has long-term goals to help his country.
“After the win, we will definitely return to that question of quality change in the game,” he said. “Ten years in the United States, I saw how it worked. I hope I have in my mind the role model for changing the Ukrainian game.”
Medvedenko joined the Lakers in the 2000–01 season. He had his best season in 2003–04 when he started 38 games in place of injured Hall of Famer Karl Malone, and averaged 8.3 points and 5.0 rebounds. Injuries later slowed him down and Medvedenko was traded. Atlanta Hawks In 2006–07, his last season in the league.
Medvedenko said he messages with former Lakers Mark Madsen and Luke Walton. The team has sent sports equipment for use in Ukraine.
“The Lakers family always helps me,” he said. “The Lakers are always in my heart.”