Entertainment Sports 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 By Jason Hahn Jason Hahn Jason Hahn is a former Human Interest and Sports Reporter for PEOPLE. He started at PEOPLE's Los Angeles Bureau as a writer and reporter in 2017 and interviewed the likes of Kobe Bryant, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tom Brady. He has a B.A. in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Master's degree in Journalism from Columbia University. He previously worked for Complex Magazine in New York City. People Editorial Guidelines Published on July 26, 2022 04:42 PM Share Tweet Pin Email 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. Utah Jazz to Fund 32,000 Nights of Housing for Ukrainians Fleeing Russian Invasion 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. Life Goes On in Kyiv, Where Residents Are Resuming Normal Activities amid Ongoing Russian Threat "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." RELATED VIDEO: Drone Pilot Heads to Ukraine to Rescue Pets Trapped in War Zone-: 'My Scariest Mission So Far' 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."