Giannis Antetokounmpo is an immigrant, a NBA player, and on Feb. 19, he’ll become an All-Star. The Milwaukee Bucks player is about to make his All-Star Game debut, so get to know all about Giannis’s incredible story.
1. He was born in Athens but didn’t become a Greek citizen until he was 18.
There are many paths to the NBA All-Star game, but for Giannis Antetokounmpo, 22, his journey took thousands of miles. The man nicknamed “The Greek Freak” is the son of immigrants from Lagos, Nigeria. Though he was born in Athens, he and his three bothers didn’t qualify to receive Greek citizenship. Greece finally made Giannis a citizen in 2013, right when he joined the Milwaukee Bucks.
2. Before the NBA, he and his family struggled.
Being undocumented immigrants, finding work in Greece was hard for the Antetokounmpos. Giannis and his older brother, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, 24, would sell watches, bags and sunglasses on the streets. “Let’s do something with out lives,” Thanasis used to tell Giannis, according to Yahoo Sports, “so we never have to do this again.”
They ultimately would. Like Giannis, Thanasis is also a basketball player. He signed to the Delaware 87ers as part of the 2013 NBA Development League Draft. In 2016, he joined MoraBanc Andorra in the Spanish Liga ACB.
3. He has a second first name.
David Stern, 74, the former NBA Commission, famously struggled to say “Giannis Antetokounmpo” during the NBA Draft. Perhaps he would have had an easier time pronouncing his Nigerian name, as he is also known as Ougko.
4. Giannis hasn’t forgotten where he comes from.
Even though he’s living the dream of being a NBA star, he doesn’t spend money like a baller. He sets aside most of his salary, choosing to live cheaply on the $190 daily per diem from his team.
As a rookie, Giannis bought himself a Playstation 4 to help pass the time in his St. Francis, Wisconsin apartment. Except, he felt guilty for spending $399 on the video game console, the most money he ever spent on something so non-essential. He ultimately sold it to Buck assistant coach, Nick Van Exel. Giannis waited until his family had moved to the United States before he would treat himself like that again.
5. He’s appeared at the All-Star game before.
Giannis played for Filathlitkos, a Greek A2 League team, in 2012. He made himself eligible for the 2013 draft, and the Bucks picked him 15th overall. It was that year he played in the NBA Rising Stars Challenge. In 2015, he participated in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, ultimately losing to Zach Levine, 21. Giannis will make his proper All-Star debut on Feb. 19, being the first Greek player to be an NBA All-Star. He’s also the younger Bucks player to ever start in an All-Star game.
What do you think about Giannis, HollywoodLifers? Are you excited to see him in the All-Star Game?