Ukrainian ex-NBA star Slava Medvedenko tells CBS News why he sold his championship rings and picked up a gun

By | November 24, 2022

Kyiv- Slava Medvedenko is a former basketball star who helped ship two NBA championships throughout his time with the Los Angeles Lakers. However when Russia invaded his house nation, like so many different Ukrainians, he picked up a gun.

Having witnessed firsthand the influence of the Russian struggle on Ukrainian youth, Medvedenko offered his valuable championship rings and used the proceeds to offer recommendation and sports activities alternatives for youngsters.

Amongst his tens of millions of followers, nothing means extra to the Ukrainian participant than the individuals of Kyiv who, like him, now stay in a struggle zone.

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Slava Medvedenko performs basketball with a teen in Ukraine

For a second of happiness, for the youngsters who obtained new LA Lakers basketballs, the struggle was interrupted they usually may play the sport they love.

“They sort of neglect there is a struggle occurring,” the NBA star stated, watching them on the courtroom and calling it a sort of “remedy” for the children.

However all of a sudden the struggle broke out. As Russian forces hit Ukraine’s energy grid with a barrage of missile hearth this week, the lights above the courtroom went out.

Undeterred by the assault on their nation’s fundamental companies, the children shortly turned on the lights on their cell telephones and continued the exercise.

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Practising in a darkish Ukrainian fitness center with gentle from cellphones.

All of that is painfully acquainted to Medvedenko, and that is why he selected to place down his basketball and decide up an assault rifle to hitch the struggle towards the invasion.

“I made the choice to remain in Kyiv,” he advised CBS Information. “Something I can do to defend my metropolis.”

He stated he noticed the streets of his hometown suffering from bullet-riddled automobiles, a few of them with the our bodies of slain civilians nonetheless inside. He stated a automobile was scrawled in massive print, clearly stating there have been youngsters inside.

“However the Russians are nonetheless capturing, capturing at their automobiles,” he stated. “It was scary.”

It was then, Medvedenko stated, that he totally understood what actually issues in life: individuals, not possessions. Not even his valuable NBA championship rings.

He stated the choice was made shortly: “I’ve to promote my rings and assist my nation.”

So he auctioned them off on-line, hoping they might fetch six figures collectively. However every of them, individually, grossed over 1 / 4 of one million {dollars} – a report for NBA championship rings.

Medvedenko advised CBS Information that this made him very glad: “We will spend more cash on youngsters and assist extra youngsters!”

By the charity he co-founded with a Ukrainian sports activities journalist, the Fly Excessive Basis, Medvedenko helped restore damaged home windows and basketball courts in faculties destroyed by Russian artillery and despatched youngsters in basketball camps.

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Los Angeles Lakers guard Devean George (3) helps separate ahead Slava Medvedenko, proper, and Detroit Pistons ahead Rasheed Wallace throughout a 3rd quarter showdown in Sport 4 of their NBA Finals at Auburn Hills , Michigan, in a June 13, 2004 file picture.

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We requested him what he finds extra rewarding, successful championships alongside Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, or serving to youngsters in Kyiv.

“It is two completely different worlds,” he stated, describing his early years with the NBA as a dream come true. “Now I am extra mature and I believe otherwise. I believe serving to my nation is extra necessary.”

Medvedenko now has a brand new dream: “To make Ukrainians free, wholesome and unbiased”.