Giannis Antetokounmpo, the 6’11” forward for the Milwaukee Bucks, also known as The Greek Freak is slowly taking over the NBA one game at a time. He and his team will face off against the Boston Celtics in the second round of the NBA playoffs early next week. What many don’t know about Giannis is the road he had to take to get to where he is today. Giannis grew up in the Athens neighborhood of Sepolia, which is one of the most poverty stricken in Greece. His family lived in a very small two bedroom apartment his entire childhood, his parents were immigrants from Nigeria who struggled to find work, they would sleep three to four in a bed every night, with barely enough money to eat. Giannis and his brother started working at a young age with his family selling, or should I say hustling, glasses, watches, and DVDs. If he and his brothers could make $30 in a day it was considered a huge day for this family. Interestingly, Giannis didn’t start playing basketball until he was 12 years old. When he was 14-years-old he started to develop even greater passion for the game.
Unfortunately, his family had no computers, internet or cable television, so Giannis would have to hustle $1 out on the streets in order to use the library computer to watch highlight films of great American players in the NBA. He and his older brother started to play more competitively and quickly improved. They where soon asked to play on a couple of elite traveling teams inside Greece. The story is, they were rarely on the court at the same time, as they often had to share the same pair of basketball shoes. Eventually, someone released a video they had taken of Giannis and somehow it traveled around enough to attract NBA scouts. In 2013, at the age of 18, Giannis was asked to be a part of the NBA draft. He didn’t want to attend the draft because his parents couldn’t make the trip. After lots of negotiating and getting his brother to come along, Giannis agreed to attend.
It’s funny, when Giannis finally got on the plane to go to the NBA Draft his agent asked him where his suit was? He replied, “What suit? Where would I ever get a suit?” They found him a suit and he had to wear for the draft. He had to wear the same suit the next day when he flew to Milwaukee for an interview with the Bucks, who drafted Giannis with the 15th overall pick. Those close to Giannis said he sent every penny he earned his rookie season back home to his family in Greece. Some say, he didn’t even like spending money on taxi’s so he always ran to games and practices. He believed his family could use that money rather than him wasting it sitting in a cab. He didn’t have a very good rookie season, his team only won 15 games and he averaged only 6 points per game. He knew he had to get better and it was going to take a lot of hard work, so he dedicated himself to getting stronger and more powerful.
The hard work in the offseason started to pay off when the Bucks won 41 games the next season and made it to the playoffs. Fast forward, 2019, the Bucks lead the NBA with the most wins (60) and a victory in their first playoff series. Giannis is the front runner to win the MVP, averaging an astonishing 27 points and 10 rebounds per game, finished second in total All-Star voting, and became the first foreign-born NBA player to score a Nike shoe deal, signing a $100 million contract! Let’s just say his family is now doing all right!
At the end of the day, what’s most impressive about Giannis after all his hard work is how much he gives back to the community and people in need. Giannis truly cares about his fans and puts in the effort to show his appreciation. He really exemplifies what it means to give back and help the person next to him. If you want to see short 1-minute video from his 60-Minutes interview Click HERE. Click HERE to watch the full story of Giannis’ life. Below is a quote from Giannis that everyone can learn from and help to become more successful in life. I’ll be pulling for the Bucks throughout the NBA playoffs, the Giannis Antetokounmpo story is just too powerful not to take notice. I love his humility and his heart. His parents raised him right!
“When I came to the league, I saw other players like LeBron, Kobe, and Kevin Durant and they were special because they were consistent every single night! Can I be consistent? Can I be mentally tough enough and consistent every single day and night to help my team and my family? It was the beginning of my third year, I had 27 points the first game and that’s when I realized, I can do this, I can be consistent every single night!”
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