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 residence nation, like so many different Ukrainians, he picked up a gun.

Having witnessed firsthand the impression of the Russian battle on Ukrainian youth, Medvedenko bought his treasured championship rings and used the proceeds to offer recommendation and sports activities alternatives for kids.

Amongst his hundreds of thousands of followers, nothing means extra to the Ukrainian participant than the individuals of Kyiv who, like him, now dwell in a battle zone.

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Slava Medvedenko performs basketball with a teen in Ukraine

For a second of happiness, for the youngsters who acquired new LA Lakers basketballs, the battle was interrupted and so they may play the sport they love.

“They form of overlook there is a battle occurring,” the NBA star stated, watching them on the courtroom and calling it a form of “remedy” for the youngsters.

However immediately the battle 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 providers, the youngsters 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 choose up an assault rifle to hitch the combat 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 affected by 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 taking pictures, taking pictures at their automobiles,” he stated. “It was scary.”

It was then, Medvedenko stated, that he absolutely understood what actually issues in life: individuals, not possessions. Not even his treasured 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’d fetch six figures collectively. However every of them, individually, grossed over 1 / 4 of 1,000,000 {dollars} – a file for NBA championship rings.

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

By way of 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 Recreation 4 of their NBA Finals at Auburn Hills , Michigan, in a June 13, 2004 file picture.

AP/PAUL SANCYA


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 feel in a different way. I feel serving to my nation is extra vital.”

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

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