This is the story of a young man who went from picking oranges on farms and hawking sun glasses and wrist watches on the streets of Athens, to becoming an NBA favorite.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is an all-round forward and guard for the Milwaukee Bucks. The 24-year-old has succeeded in doing what only a few have ever been able to accomplish in the history of professional basketball.
At 6’11, Antetokounmpo is by far one of the most athletic, eccentric, and electrifying players to watch in the NBA pro league. If you do not fall in love with his amazing play on the court, do not worry, his big heart and infamous gestures will sure rope you in.
To think that only ten years ago, Antetokounmpo was just another random kid from the streets with raw talent, who could barely speak English.
Formerly Adetokunbo, now spelled Antetokounmpo, the player was born into a family of athletes. His father, Charles Antetokounmpo, was a former Nigerian footballer, while his mother, Veronica, is a former high jumper.
Three years before his birth, his father and mother immigrated to Greece, in search of a new beginning and a better life for their unborn children.
However, things didn’t quite work out so well for the young family, and although Antetokounmpo and three of his four brothers were born in Greece, they did not automatically qualify to receive full Greek citizenship.
For the first 18 years of his life, Antetokounmpo, lived without a passport, and there was always the fear of deportation.
As immigrants without proper documentation, the family was in the lowest caste of the society, and the only way they could feed was to engage in menial jobs.
Antetokounmpo and his elder brother, Thanasis, began playing organised basketball in 2008, and in 2009, the former had begun playing for the junior team of Greece’s second division. The team resolved to paying the youngster stipends so he could focus on the game and help his family.
Just days after the player turned 18, he signed a deal with Spanish Club, CAI Zaragoza, and life changed for the family soon afterwards.
On April 28, 2013, Antetokounmpo declared his eligibility for the 2013 NBA Draft. And on May 9, 2013, he and Thanasis, now national sensations, were awarded Greece citizenship.
In June of the same year, Antetokounmpo was selected 15th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks, and life was about to get even more rosier for the once poverty stricken family.
The Nigerian Doing Great Things In The NBA
The ‘Greek Freak’, as Antetokounmpo is fondly called, averaged six points per game as a rookie, and has since continued to improve on his numbers. In his sophomore year, Antetokounmpo doubled his average per game, but that was not the only thing about the player that kept growing.
From a 6’9 rookie, he morphed into an amazing 6’11 shooting forward with the biggest hands in the league (12 inches long).
Antetokounmpo now averages 24 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 blocks, and 2 steals per game for the Bucks.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, 24, selected and captained a 12-man team of the best 24 players in the NBA against a LeBron James-led 12-man team, in the 2019 NBA All Star game.
Featured image source: Sporting News