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Former Los Angeles Lakers player Slava Medvedenko auctions NBA championship rings for Ukraine

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Former Los Angeles Lakers player Slava Medvedenko is selling his two NBA championship rings to raise money for his native Ukraine.

Medvedenko was a power forward on the Lakers’ championship teams in 2001 and ’02, playing alongside Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.

SCP Auctions is donating the entire final sale price of both rings to Medvedenko’s Fly High Foundation. Its goal is to support Ukrainian children by restoring the sports infrastructure of the war-torn country’s schools and launching a network of social sports clubs.

“We want to restore gyms because the Russian army bombed more than a hundred schools,” he told The Associated Press by phone on Sunday. “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.”

The auction runs from Wednesday through Aug. 5. The Laguna Niguel, California-based company estimates both rings will raise at least $100,000.

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Medvedenko said he decided to sell the rings after going to the roof of one of the tallest buildings in his Kyiv neighborhood and watching rockets launched by Russian forces streak through the night sky.

“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.”

Medvedenko spoke from Warsaw, Poland, where he staged a sold out charity basketball game to raise money for Ukrainian refugees who crossed the border to escape the war.

“In Ukraine, you’re just feeling it’s war, rockets, air alerts. You’re so used to that kind of pressure,” he said. “As soon as you cross the border and see how people live normal life, it’s a different world.”

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Former Los Angeles Lakers player Slava Medvedenko is selling his two NBA championship rings to raise money for his native Ukraine.

Medvedenko was a power forward on the Lakers’ championship teams in 2001 and ’02, playing alongside Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.

SCP Auctions is donating the entire final sale price of both rings to Medvedenko’s Fly High Foundation. Its goal is to support Ukrainian children by restoring the sports infrastructure of the war-torn country’s schools and launching a network of social sports clubs.

“We want to restore gyms because the Russian army bombed more than a hundred schools,” he told The Associated Press by phone on Sunday. “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.”

The auction runs from Wednesday through Aug. 5. The Laguna Niguel, California-based company estimates both rings will raise at least $100,000.

Medvedenko said he decided to sell the rings after going to the roof of one of the tallest buildings in his Kyiv neighborhood and watching rockets launched by Russian forces streak through the night sky.

“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.”

Medvedenko spoke from Warsaw, Poland, where he staged a sold out charity basketball game to raise money for Ukrainian refugees who crossed the border to escape the war.

“In Ukraine, you’re just feeling it’s war, rockets, air alerts. You’re so used to that kind of pressure,” he said. “As soon as you cross the border and see how people live normal life, it’s a different world.”

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