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Former Ukrainian NBA star Slava Medvedenko tells CBS News why he sold his championship ring and got a gun

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Kyiv — Slava Medvedenko is a former basketball star who won two NBA championships during her time with the Los Angeles Lakers. But like many other Ukrainians, he picked up his gun when Russia invaded his homeland.

Medvedenko, a first-hand witness to the impact of the Russian war on Ukrainian youth I sold a precious championship ring Proceeds were used to provide counseling and sports opportunities for children.

Among his millions of fans, nothing is more important to the Ukrainian baller than the people of Kyiv’s house, who now live in conflict zones like him.

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Slava Medvedenko playing basketball with youth in Ukraine

It was a blissful moment for the kids who received their new basketball from the LA Lakers. The war was stopped and they could play the games they loved.

“They kind of forget there’s a war,” said the NBA star, watching them on the court and calling it a kind of “therapy” for kids.

But suddenly the war started. The lights in the courthouse were dimmed this week after the Russian military launched a missile strike on the Ukrainian power grid.

Undaunted by the attack on their country’s basic services, the children quickly turned on their phones and continued their practice sessions.

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Working out in a dark Ukrainian gym where cell phone lights shine through.

It’s painfully familiar to Medvedenko, which is why he chose to put down his basketball and pick up an assault rifle to join the fight against the invasion.

“I have decided to stay in Kyiv,” he told CBS News. “Whatever I can do to protect my city.”

He saw the streets of his home city littered with bullet-hole-dotted cars. said.

“But the Russians are still shooting cars and shooting,” he said. “It was scary.”

Medvedenko said it was a moment when he fully understood what was really important in life. People, not property. Not even his precious NBA championship ring.

“I have to sell my ring and help my country.”

So he put them up for online auction in hopes of collecting six figures. But each individually earned him over $250,000. This is an NBA championship ring record.

Medvedenko told CBS News that she felt so happy, “We can spend more money on our children and help more children!”

Through a charity he co-founded with a Ukrainian sports journalist, fly high foundationMedvedenko helped repair shattered windows and basketball courts at schools destroyed by Russian shelling, and sent children to basketball camps.

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On June 13, 2004, in a showdown in the third quarter of Game 4 of the NBA Finals in Auburn Hills, Michigan, Los Angeles Lakers guard Deveen George (3) pitted forward Slava Medvedenko (right). ) and Detroit Pistons forward Rasheed Wallace.

AP/Paul Sancia


We asked him if he finds it more rewarding: winning championships with Kobe Bryant or Shaquille O’Neal, or helping children in Kyiv.

“It’s two different worlds,” he said, describing his early days in the NBA as a dream come true. “Now I’m more mature and my mindset has changed. I think it’s more important to help the country.”

Now Medvedenko has a new dream. “Let Ukrainians be free, healthy and independent.”

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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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