Not all heroes wear capes. But almost all champions wear rings — well, unless you’re a non-cape-wearing hero who donated his rings in order to help the cause of the Ukrainians who are currently still under siege from Russia.
Stanislav “Slava” Medvedenko, a former Los Angeles Lakers player, did exactly this in order to help out his home country. While he lost his rings in order to help, he did something not many would do if put in his position.
Former Lakers player Slava Medvedenko is selling his two NBA championship rings to raise money for his native country of Ukraine.
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— ESPN (@espn) July 24, 2022
Lakers Owner Jeanie Buss Replaced Rings
Luckily, he just so happened to play for one of the greatest sports franchises in history.
But you can’t be one of the greatest franchises if you don’t have your players’ backs during these trying times of adversity.
Lakers President Jeanie Buss had her guy’s back and gifted him replica championship rings upon finding out why he sold his original ones.
She gifted him his replacement rings at a Lakers fan event once she found out that his intentions were to help Ukrainian families who were affected by the ongoing conflict between the two countries.
Who Is Slava Medvedenko?
Medvedenko, whom many probably haven’t heard much of until now, was a member of the legendary 2001 and 2002 Lakers teams that won back-to-back championships.
Medvedenko entered the league in 2000, going undrafted in 1998. Joining the Lakers then, he played with them for six seasons. He joined the Atlanta Hawks in 2007 for his seventh and final season before retiring.
He sold those rings for a total of $253,534, according to CBS Sports, and all of the proceeds went to his “Fly High Foundation”, a charity that assists children who were harmed by the war between Russia and Ukraine.
Medvedenko started this foundation in 2022, and it also includes efforts to help restore sports facilities that were casualties of the ongoing war as well.
Why Did Medvedenko Sell NBA Championship Rings?
Medvedenko spoke on why he sold his rings and reiterated his sentiment that this is bigger than him and any championship he could’ve won on the court.
“In this moment, I just decided, ‘Why do I need these rings if they’re just sitting in my safe?'” Medvedenko told TMZ, when he sold his original championship rings. “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 said.
On top of being a role model for the Ukrainian youth, Medvedenko also led by example for others who wanted to defend their country. He also served in territorial defense for Ukraine throughout the war, along with his wife, who served for Ukraine during their war against Russia as well.
A great effort by him, which was also echoed by other famous Ukranian athletes. Kyiv mayor and former boxer Vitaly Klitschko, along with his brother Wladimir also helped fight and defend their country. Others, such as two-time Olympic gold medalist Vasiliy Lomachenko also took up arms to help defend his country. There are plenty more names of athletes that signed up to assist in war efforts, but these are some of the most notable.