Former Lakers player fighting in Ukraine against Russian invasion

Slava Medvedenko
249 games
From the basketball court to the war
A commitment to Ukraine
No prior
6'10
To protect their own
No time to fear
'I feel like I have to be in Ukraine'
Patrolling the city
A family command
Assisting to avoid looting and assault
His charitable foundation
A nostalgic auction
Jump like a champion
Shaq wasn't too bad after all
Slava Medvedenko

Lakers fans will fondly and nostalgically remember Slava Medvedenko, a Ukrainian power forward who shared not only the glory but also the NBA locker room with one of the best pairings in basketball history: Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant.

249 games

Slava Medvedenko played for the Los Angeles Lakers from 2000 to 2006, winning the 2001 and 2002 rings and racking up 249 purple and gold appearances. Here he is with Kobe Bryant.

Photo: @slava_megapanda / Instagram

From the basketball court to the war

Two decades later, at 43, Slava Medvedenko's life has taken a radical turn, like that of millions of Ukrainians involved in an unexpected war.

A commitment to Ukraine

The power forward, like many of his compatriots, has not hesitated to take up arms and fight for his country against the Russian invasion.

No prior "military" training

"Slava Medvedenko's days as an NBA player were already like a dream for him. Since February 24, 2022, without prior military training, he has served in the Ukrainian territorial defense forces," reports 'The Athletic,' where the Ukrainian gave an interview.

6'10" of Ukrainian soldier

With his towering 6' 10"  height and more than sufficient fitness for someone who hasn't played in the NBA for 15 years, Slava Medvedenko tells 'The Athletic' what his day-to-day life is like in Ukraine.

To protect their own

A routine with a single objective that is repeated daily: to protect your own. To achieve this, he has two allies: binoculars and a Kalashnikov AK-47 rifle.

No time to fear

The former Lakers player, who also played for the Hawks (14 games), points out that the bombings intensify at night. Despite this, he claims not to be afraid. "When you're in this process, you don't have time to be scared," he reveals.

'I feel like I have to be in Ukraine'

Obviously, he doesn't even consider leaving the country. "I feel like I have to be in Ukraine and help my country. We have to be strong," says Slava Medvedenko.

Photo: @slava_megapanda / Instagram

Patrolling the city

Slava Medvedenko protects his own and his wounded compatriots, patrolling the area in search of spies or traitors.

Photo: @slava_megapanda / Instagram

A family command

"I patrol the city while my wife is working in a communications center," Slava Medvedenko told 'Sport Arena.'

Assisting to avoid looting and assault

The work of Slava Medvedenko and his comrades is essential, "our task is to minimize looting. We look for traitors who we can arrest and hand over to the Ukrainian security service. If we take care of the streets, life is calmer," he says.

Photo: @slava_megapanda / Instagram

His charitable foundation

The former Lakers player has also created a charitable foundation that helps Ukrainian children by sending food to the areas most affected by the Russian attacks.

Photo: @slava_megapanda / Instagram

A nostalgic auction

Slava Medvedenko will do his bit by utilizing his Laker's past with an online auction of nostalgic memorabilia from his days in Los Angeles.

Jump like a champion

The former NBA player opened bids for his playing shoes, with which he won his two championship rings, to raise money to continue his work in Ukraine.

Photo: @slava_megapanda / Instagram

Shaq wasn't too bad after all

Who would have known that 20 years after being Shaquille O'Neal's substitute, he would go through something much harder like a war?

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