“Breaks my heart” | TU’s Konstantynovskyi worried for family in Ukraine

Nikita Konstantynovskyi is a proud Ukranian living in Tulsa playing basketball for the Golden Hurricane while his family and friends are still in Kyiv -- living the terror of Russia invading their country.

“I love my hometown,” Konstantynovskyi said in news conference over Zoom Tuesday. “I love walking on the streets. I love hanging out with my friends.”

The Ukraine now is not the Ukraine Konstantynovskyi grew up in -- where he lived the first 15 years of his life -- before coming to America to play basketball.

“I couldn’t imagine Kyiv being like in war, like on fire,” Konstantynovskyi said. “Even in my nightmares, I couldn’t imagine what is happening right now.”

A Ukraine worse than his nightmares is where Konstantynovskyi’s parents and his brother and sister still are. He says he’s talking to them 24-7.

“I was on the phone with my family, and I heard the bombs landing, and I got scared” Konstantynovskyi said. “I got scared for my family because of me being here. I’m blessed to be here to be safe, but my family’s not.”

Phone calls like that one and the destruction Konstantynovskyi sees on the news, it’s just so much to handle.

“It just breaks my heart,” Konstantynovskyi said. “It makes me want to change something. That’s why I’m speaking to you guys because I don’t want it to keep happening.”

Konstantynovskyi says his teammates and coaches help him with his mental health while he’s so far from home. He tries not to take the emotions of what’s happening in Ukraine onto the court with him here in America. Basketball though is so much of his life and so is his home country. They can’t be totally separated.

“Whatever I do on the basketball floor,” Konstantynovskyi said, “I want to dedicate to Ukraine because it’s my hometown, and I wish everything will end.”

Konstantynovskyi will be back on the court with his teammates Wednesday night at home against Wichita State. Tipoff is at 8 pm.