Former Los Angeles Lakers forward Slava Medvedenko is selling his two NBA championship rings from 2001 and 2002 to raise money for Ukraine, his native country. Both are 14K gold rings he earned while playing along side Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.
The rings are on the market at SCP Auctions through Aug. 5, and 100% of the profit will go Medvedenko’s Fly High Foundation, which helps with sports infrastructure for Ukrainian children affected by Russia’s invasion of the country. SCP Auctions expects both rings to raise at least $100,000.
The Russian army invaded Ukraine in February, and five months later, Medvedenko reunited with his family in Kyiv. He told the Associated Press that he made the decision after going to the roof of one of the tallest buildings and watching Russian rockets in the sky. He said they have air alerts on a regular basis, sometimes three or four times a day.
Although the rings were special to him and the Lakers organization has even sent sports equipment to the Ukraine, Medvedenko wanted to put the rings to better use.
“In this moment I just decided, ‘Why do I need these rings if they’re just sitting in my safe?'” Medvedenko told the AP. “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.”
Selling the rings is not the only way Medvedenko has helped his country. He recently organized a sold out a charity basketball game in Poland to raise money for Ukrainian refugees. He has also served in Ukraine’s territorial defense forces and carried an AK-47.
“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 told the AP. “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.”