Former Los Angeles Lakers forward Slava Medvedenko has been helping the victims of the brutal war in his native Ukraine — even if at the cost of losing his precious championship rings.
After serving in Kyiv’s volunteer territorial defense groups following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Medvedenko focused on rebuilding the country’s sports infrastructure for children. The 43-year-old began raising money for his humanitarian efforts by auctioning off various memorabilia from his career, including the two championship rings he won with the Lakers in 2001 and 2002.
It was initially estimated the rings could yield at least $100,000. However, sports writer Arash Markazi reports they sold for over double the sum — bringing in $253,534 combined for Medvedenko’s charity:
Former Los Angeles Lakers forward Slava Medvedenko’s two championship rings just sold for a combined $253,534 for charity. Medvedenko’s 2001 ring sold for $126,767 and his 2002 ring sold for $126,767 with 100% of the proceeds benefiting Ukraine relief efforts. pic.twitter.com/l6HrIEVne1
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) August 6, 2022
Medvedenko decided to sell his rings after watching Russian rockets fly over his head from the roof of one of the tallest buildings in his neighborhood:
“In this moment I just decided, ‘Why do I need these rings if they’re just sitting in my safe?’” He 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 spent six seasons with the Lakers, averaging 5.4 points and 2.9 rebounds.
Lakers reportedly promised to replace Medvedenko’s rings if sold
When the first reports of Medvedenko’s plans to sell his championship rings came out, Lakers executive Linda Rambis is believed to have assured L.A.’s former player the franchise would replace them after the auction’s conclusion.
Also, the Lakers reportedly prepared a shipment of sports gear to send to Ukraine in order to support Medvedenko’s charitable efforts.
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