Updated: Oct 4
Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the newest stars to come into his own in the NBA. Giannis is the son of Nigerian parents and was born and raised in Athens, Greece. Three out of Giannis’s brothers did not revive Greek citizenship until 2013. For the first 18 years of his life, Giannis could not travel outside the country and was effectively stateless, having no papers from Greece or Nigeria.
His career started when he was playing basketball overseas for a team that was based out of Greece called Filathlitikos which is a senior men's team of the semi-pro Greek B Basket League. A couple of days before Giannis turned 18 years old he signed a contract for four years with Spanish club CAI Zaragoza, which reportedly included NBA buyouts after each season. Several other major European clubs had been interested in adding him, including Barcelona and Anadolu Efes.
After his first season with the team, he was picked by his coaches to be a part of the Greek League All-Star team for the 2012-2013 season. In 2013, Giannis finally made it into the NBA when he was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks with the 15th overall pick in the first round. People could not pronounce his name so they gave him the nickname “The Greek Freak.” The reason he got this name was because of his size and ability while he was playing in a game.
Throughout his years in the NBA, he has received many awards, including:
13x NBA Player of the Week
8x NBA Player of the Month
7x All-NBA Team
5x All-Defensive Team
2x NBA Most Valuable Player
1x All-Rookie Team
1x NBA Defensive Player of the Year
1x NBA Most Improved Player
1x NBA Finals Most Valuable Player
1x NBA Finals Championship
Giannis has helped young children look up to an athlete who isn’t your typical looking player as someone who is an athlete who has excelled way past what anybody would have thought. Now he is included as one of the best current players along with Stephen Curry and Lebron James.
For the Antetokounmpo family, four out of their five sons, Thanasis, Kostas, Francis, and Alex have gotten drafted into the NBA. Three out of the four brothers claimed NBA Championship titles and made history as a result. (Kostas won the Finals with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020, and Thanasis and Giannis won with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2021.).
All of the brothers are gifted basketball players, and they have been following in the footsteps of Giannis. The Antetokounmpo family is very proud of their sons and all they have accomplished while playing professional basketball in the United States of America.
It is the first time in the history of the NBA that four brothers of the same two parents have gotten drafted into the NBA and been on teams where they can have a chance at winning an NBA title. Giannis started this path for his family at the young age of 18 years old and hasn’t stopped since. The NBA has changed ever since Giannis and his brothers entered the league, and it has brought the entertainment factor back to the NBA.