Lakers owner Jeanie Buss gifts replacement championship rings to retired forward Slava Medvedenko to replace the ones he pawned for $253,534 to raise money for the war effort in his native Ukraine
Former Los Angeles Laker Slava Medvedenko was gifted replacement NBA championship rings after selling his original ones to help raise money for Ukraine in the war against Russia.
Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022 and the two countries have been fighting since.
Medvedenko’s rings sold for $253,534 with all of the proceeds going to his Fly High Foundation which focuses on repairing sports facilities and schools in areas hit hardest by the conflict.
Five months after his decision to sell the rings to help his country, Lakers owner Jeanie Buss presented Medvedenko with new rings at an event with Lakers fans in attendance.
Slava Medvedenko received new NBA Championship rings during a fan event in Los Angeles
Lakers owner Jeanie Buss gifted Medvedenko the rings after he sold them to aide Ukraine
Medvedenko won back-to-back NBA Championships with the Lakers in 2001 and 2002
‘In this moment, I just decided, “Why do I need these rings if they’re just sitting in my safe?” Medvedenko said of selling the items at the time. ‘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.’
He in fact ended up doing more than just selling the rings to raise money for the war effort as he also joined Ukraine’s territorial defense despite having no prior military experience.
Medvedenko(14) can be seen sitting next to Shaquille O’Neal in LA’s 2002 team photo
Medvedenko was on the Lakers roster during the 2001 and 2002 seasons when a Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant-led Los Angeles won back-to-back NBA Finals.
He spent five years with the Lakers, with his most productive season coming during the 2003-2004 season when he averaged 8.3 points per game in 21.2 minutes.
During that season he started the most games of his NBA career with 38 starts out of 68 games.
Medvedenko speaks to former teammate Kobe Bryant, while attending a Lakers game in 2017