Fifteen years since he last appeared in an NBA game, Slava Medvedenko is now using his offensive capabilities in war rather than on-court. Ever since the Russian President, Vladimir Putin announced invasion of his home country Ukraine, the former Los Angeles Lakers and Atlanta Hawks center has taken up arms in protecting his motherland from annexation. Since 24th February, 2022 , Medvedenko, who had no previous military training, has served in Ukraine’s territorial defense forces, the reserve unit of the country’s military.
A former NBA star, Medvedenko has been retired since 2007 following his stint with the Atlanta Hawks. Born in 1979 in his father’s native village of Karapyshi, south of Kyiv, Medvedenko was raised primarily in the capital city, where his mother, Olga, worked in a plant and his dad, Yurii, worked as a security officer.
Prior to his retirement, he enjoyed a seven-season spell with the Los Angeles Lakers where he won two championships alongside the late great Kobe Bryant. For nearly two months, the former NBA Champion with the LA Lakers, has functioned as an around-the-clock member of a military police force.
“You don’t have time to be Scared”- Slava Medvedenko
Slava Medvedenko played six seasons with the Lakers, averaging 5.4 points and 2.9 rebounds in 249 games in the elite ,purple and gold jersey. He has recently voiced his thoughts in an interview to The Athletic, stating his daily struggle to protect his family and survive the Russian Army’s invasion.
The article mentions Los Angeles Lakers owner, Jeanie Buss, who called Medvedenko an “ ultimate role player.” That was something she thought of as she learned that he had not fled Kyiv, but instead took up arms to defend his country. Medvedenko is doing everything he can to support the Ukrainian army, which for the former NBA player has included auctioning off virtually all memorabilia from his playing days.
“You say, ‘OK, that matches the character of who that person is, playing basketball isn’t life and death, but it is a reflection of who we are and what we bring.”
“Can you imagine, you’re sitting at a checkpoint and you see a big f**king rocket flying overhead, When you’re in this process… you don’t have time to panic. I feel I have to be in Ukraine and help my country, my nation. We have to be strong.” Medvedenko told Bill Oram of The Athletic. At this time of the conflict Medvedenko is focusing his efforts on helping those affected by the Russian attacks while also patrolling his neighborhood for saboteurs.
Stocked with just a binocular and a Russian-made Kalashnikov (AK-47), Slava Medvedenko recalls a traumatizing night unfold, as he watched Russian forces fire more than 20 missiles, attempting to demolish Ukraine’s radar system. The former Lakers players joins the likes of the Klitschko brothers, Vasyl Lomachenko, Oleksandr Usyk, Sergiy Stakhovsky and a bunch of others in returning home to tackle Russia’s full-scale invasion head on.
The 2-time NBA champ is committed to establish a charitable foundation with the sole purpose of helping Ukrainian children, and delivering food to areas hit by the invading Russian forces. War never brings peace, as there does not emerge a winner on any side. Slava Medvedenko is doing an exemplary service to his people of his nation, and we all hope for his safety and well-being.
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