Former Los Angeles Laker and Ukraine native Slava Medvedenko is stepping up his support for his home country by auctioning his two championship rings.
Medvedenko, 43, played six seasons with the Lakers, including their 2000-01 and 2001-02 championship teams featuring Kobe Bryant and Shaq O’Neal.
Medvedenko told the Associated Press he decided to sell his rings after watching Russian rockets from the rooftop of his home.
“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.”
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.
More than 14,000 fatalities have been recorded.
“We want to restore gyms because the Russian army bombed more than a hundred schools,” said Medvedenko. “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 has three children ages 10 to 16, who he sent to live with their grandmother while he took up arms to help defend Ukraine.
“We were defending our neighborhood, doing checkpoints and duty patrol,” Medvedenko said. “I’m not the best solider, I’m not the best shooter, but I can give them support. I shoot it 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.”
California-based SCP Auctions will auction the two rings this Wednesday through August 5, with the entire proceeds going to Medvedenko’s Fly High Foundation to benefit kids.
SCP estimates each ring is worth about $100,000.
The former 6-foot-ten power forward averaged 5.3 points, 2.8 rebounds, 0.5 assists, and 0.2 blocks in seven seasons, six with the Lakers and his last with the Atlanta Hawks.
His best output came his third year in the league when he averaged 8.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.3 blocks during the 2003-04 season.