Former Laker Slava Medvedenko Auctioning His Championship Rings to 'Help My Ukrainian People'

Medvedenko won two NBA championships as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, led by former stars Kobe Byrant and Shaquille O'Neal

Kobe Bryant #8 talks to Stanislav Medvedenko #14 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the NBA season opener against the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center on October 29, 2002 in Los Angeles, California. The Spurs won 87-82.
Slava Medvedenko. Photo: Jeff Gross/Getty

Former Los Angeles Lakers player Slava Medvedenko is parting with his two NBA championship rings to raise money for his native Ukraine.

The 43-year-old told the Associated Press that he is hoping to raise funds to "restore" parts of Ukraine damaged during Russia's ongoing attacks on the country.

Medvedenko said he was inspired to auction off the rings after watching rockets soar over Ukraine.

"In this moment I just decided, 'Why do I need these rings if they're just sitting in my safe?' " Medvedenko, who lives in Kyiv, told the outlet. "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."

"We want to restore gyms because the Russian army bombed more than a hundred schools," he continued. "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."

Medvedenko won two NBA titles as a member of the historic Lakers team led by Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal and head coach Phil Jackson.

The pair of rings came from the era when the Lakers won three consecutive championships between 2000 and 2002.

Stanislav Medvedenko #14 of the Los Angeles Lakers passes the ball against the San Antonio Spurs in Game six of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2004 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 15, 2004 in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers won 88-76 and won the series 4-2.
Stephen Dunn/Getty

According to the AP, the rings are expected to raise at least $100,000 during the auction, which will begin Wednesday and run through August 5.

The auction house, SCP Auctions, will donate the funds to Fly High Foundation, a charity started by Medvedenko earlier this year.

"In Ukraine, you're just feeling it's war, rockets, air alerts. You're so used to that kind of pressure," Medvedenko told the AP of what life has been like since the start of the war in February.

"As soon as you cross the border and see how people live normal life, it's a different world," he continued.

Medvedenko has two daughters, ages 16 and 11, and said he sent them to live with another relative after the war began. Since then, he has helped defend the country.

"We were defending our neighborhood, doing checkpoints and duty patrol. I'm not the best solider, I'm not the best shooter, but I can give them support," he explained. "I shoot [guns] a couple times, not at people. I'm happy I don't have a chance to shoot somebody. Our army did a great job to defend Kyiv. I want to thank them."

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Medvedenko played for the Lakers from 2000 to 2006. He told the AP that he still speaks with some of his former teammates.

"The Lakers family always help me," he said. "The Lakers are always in my heart."

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