Giannis Antetokounmpo’s year just keeps getting better. The NBA Finals MVP led the Milwaukee Bucks to the franchise’s first championship in 50 years in July.
While Giannis was carrying the Bucks to the promised land, he was also making family history with his brothers.
On Thursday, the Finals MVP attended a special ceremony at the residence of Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to watch his mother Veronica and brother Alex Antetokounmpo receive their Greek citizenship.
— Jerrod Mustaf (@JerrodMustaf1) September 16, 2021
“Greek Freak” became a certified nickname for Giannis when he was granted Greek citizenship in 2013. This citizenship enabled him to travel to the United States after being drafted by the Bucks with the 15th overall pick later that year.
“We always felt Greek, but now we have an official stamp and we are happy,” Antetokounmpo told reporters after the ceremony. “Alex and my mom are Greek citizens now.”
Giannis is the second-oldest of five brothers born to immigrant parents.
From Sharing Beds To Breaking Bread
With a starting five at the crib, Giannis didn’t sit around by himself hooping and talking about becoming the next Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant.
Antetokounmpo said he and his five brothers used to share a bed and dream of playing in the NBA together. They’ve had so much good fortune and come a long way from the impoverished conditions of their youth.
Giannis and his brothers — Francis, Thanasis, Alex and Kostas — would sell trinkets on the street to help the family survive. He picked up hoops in 2007 and caught the attention of scouts with his performances in the Zografou Indoor Basketball Hall located right outside of Athens. He walked 2.5 miles each way daily to participate.
His talent drew some interest from Willy Vallar, the Real Zaragoza sporting director. In 2012, he signed Giannis to a four-year contract with the Spanish club CAI Zaragoza.
Antetokounmpo quickly improved and shot up draft boards ahead of the 2013 NBA draft, eventually being selected 15th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks.
They considered lending him back to Real Zaragoza, but instead kept him and made him one of the youngest NBA players ever at the age of 18.
The rest is history.
With his global profile and his importance to the Greek community elevated by his success on the hardwood, Giannis tries to visit his homeland as much as possible these days. He’s helping to inspire the basketball culture in Greece and he’s been connecting with the younger generation for years.
He traveled to Greece in August with his other brother Thanasis, proudly carrying the Larry O’Brien NBA championship trophy to the ancient Acropolis in Athens to celebrate with members of his family.
The brothers kept making history in the same month after Giannis and Thanasis received their NBA rings.
Birth Of The Antetokounmpo Dynasty
Giannis, Thanasis and Kostas Antetokounmpo became the first trio of brothers to become NBA champions in league history. Giannis, 26, and Thanasis, 29, helped the Milwaukee Bucks get by Phoenix, joining their brother Kostas, 23, who won a championship with the Los Angeles Lakers inside the NBA bubble in 2020.
Giannis, Kostas and Thanasis Antetokounmpo are the first trio of brothers to win NBA rings in history.
— Africans In Sports (@africansinsport) July 21, 2021
Back in April, Giannis played in an NBA game with his brothers Thanasis and Kostas for the first time. Three international NBA brothers played on the same court together. Antetokounmpo said it was “his favorite moment of his career.”
The story of the Antetokounmpo Brothers is made for the big screen. You can’t tell Greek Freak’s story without sharing the stories of his family and their collective impact on the NBA and international hoops landscape.