Slava Medvedenko Hopes To Raise $100,000 For Ukrainian Children By Auctioning Off Lakers Championship Rings
(Photo by Catherine Steenkeste/NBAE via Getty Images)

Former Los Angeles Lakers center Slava Medvedenko has been fundraising money to support his war-torn homeland, Ukraine, by auctioning off the precious memorabilia from his NBA career.

Medvedenko spent seven years in the NBA, six of them with the Lakers. He joined the Purple and Gold in 2000 to win the title in his rookie season alongside Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal — although he made just seven appearances throughout the campaign.

But when he helped the Lakers defend the championship the following year, he became part of the rotation, averaging 4.7 points and 2.2 rebounds in 71 regular-season games.

However, 20 years later, the 43-year-old is selling the two championship rings to fundraise money for his Fly High Foundation and help restore Ukraine’s sports facilities for children, per AP via ESPN:

“We want to restore gyms because the Russian army 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 are going to be last in the line to fix it. In Ukraine, we have winter and kids need to play inside.”

The auction runs from Wednesday through Aug. 5. The Laguna Niguel, California-based company estimates both rings will raise at least $100,000.

Medvedenko said he decided to sell the rings after going to the roof of one of the tallest buildings in his Kyiv neighborhood and watching rockets launched by Russian forces streak through the night sky.

“In this moment I just decided, ‘Why do I need these rings if they’re just sitting in my safe?'” Medvedenko said. “I just recognize I can die. After that, I just say I have to sell them to show people leadership, to help my Ukrainian people to live better, to help kids.”

Medvedenko served in Ukraine’s volunteer territorial defense group after Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24.

But after the fighting moved east from Kyiv — Ukraine’s capital where the former 6-foot-10 forward resides — he focused on helping refugees who crossed the border as well as those who have been affected by the brutal war inside the country.

Medvedenko said Kyiv residents hear air alerts almost every day and his two daughters have gotten so used to them they don’t even stop playing in the backyard when the sirens are blaring.

Lakers help Medvedenko’s charitable efforts; vow to replace auctioned rings

The Lakers said they prepared a shipment of sports gear to Ukraine to aid Medvedenko’s charitable efforts.

Franchise executive Linda Rambis also assured the former forward L.A. would replace his championship rings if he sold them.

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