Arguably one of NBA’s top young talent, Giannis Antetokounmpo is a uniquely gifted player driven by an undeniable desire to be great. The super-skilled star’s approach to the game and competitive spirit makes him a stand out monster on the court. Though initially considered a little lightweight for basketball, Antetokounmpo stoked his confidence as a playmaker and blossomed into one of the most favorite players to watch in the league.
Also known as the Greek Freak, Giannis has accomplished amazing feats at his young age. The budding star who holds the record as the youngest player ever to star in an NBA All-Star game remains endearing to fans. He is one of the league’s most beloved players and has the potential to become the best NBA player ever. Be inspired to success with the Milwaukee Bucks superstar’s rags-to-riches story.
The Greek Freak was born Giannis Antetokounmpo on 6th December 1994, in Athens to Nigerian immigrant parents, Charles and Veronica Antetokounmpo. The Bucks star had a hardscrabble childhood as his parents struggled to make ends meet. His family grew up in the modest neighborhood of Sepolia where he and his brothers constantly lived in the fear of being deported by the police and could not socialize freely with other children.
Though a fan of Greek club Olympiakos, Giannis initially started off showing interest and playing football, but later changed his focus to basketball at age 13. He was actually not very interested in dribbling with a basketball until a local club coach helped him discover his hidden zeal and toughness for the sport. With great support and mentorship from the Sepolia club coach and a local restaurateur in their neighborhood who also helped cater for his stomach needs, Giannis was set on a part to greatness.
Antetokounmpo and his family later relocated to another neighborhood close to Filathlitikos where he constantly practiced for two years. But his breakthrough came in the year 2009 when he was chosen as a member of Filathlitikos’s youth team marking the beginning of his pro career.
Giannis Antetokounmpo played with the Filathlitikos youth team for three years and later joined the senior team in 2012. He was poised to join a Spanish club CAI Zaragoza later that same year after signing a 4-year contract with the franchise. However, he never got to play for the European side as he was placed as an NBA prospect at the end of that season. In the year 2013, the Greek Freak was drafted into the NBA as the 15th overall pick by the Milwaukee Bucks.
In his rookie year in 2015, Giannis was not only one of the top ranking players for the season, but also made the NBA’s All-Rookie second-team and was selected to compete in the NBA Dunk Contest. After exceeding expectations in his first season, the Bucks decided to make Antetokounmpo a long-term project.
Notably, in the 2016 season, Giannis averaged 26.9 points, 10.0 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.4 blocks. He was also named an All-Star and to the All-NBA Second Team. In the same season, he made history as the first player ever in the NBA to finish in the top-20 league-wide in all five major statistics: points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks.
Besides achieving unprecedented records and eye-popping numbers with the Bucks, Giannis stellar performance with the team has also earned him several awards including Player of the Week, Eastern Conference Player, Eastern Player of the Week/Month, NBA Most Improved Player Award, amongst others.
Being such a valuable asset and an integral part of the team, Gianni has had his contract with the franchise renewed twice. The NBA star is currently enjoying a $100 million 4-year extended contract which he signed in September 2016.
An unstoppable force and a versatile player, Giannis Antetokounmpo is not resting on his laurels but continues to leave the basketball world smitten with his robust performances on and off the court.
In order to keep him in Milwaukee, Giannis Antetokounmpo signed a four-year deal worth $100 million in 2016, making him one of the highest paid NBA players. This means he won’t become an unrestricted free agent until 2021. Though he is currently deemed worthy of the $100 million deal, there have been speculations that the low-profile star player may soon leave the Bucks to join a more star-studded squad. Given his outstanding performances in the league, it is anticipated that other teams and rival executives could try to recruit Giannis away from the Bucks. Till that happens, he is still a Bucks player.
For now, the lady behind Giannis’ smiles is Mariah Riddlesprigger. Just like her beau, Mariah is an American athlete who played volleyball at Rice University. The pair who have often been spotted together on several occasions has apparently found love in each other’s arm and their fans can only hope for a happy ending for the couple.
Giannis Antetokounmpo Parents, Brother
Giannis Antetokounmpo is the third of five sons born to Nigerian parents, Charles and Veronica Antetokounmpo. His parents migrated to Greece in the year 1991 in search of greener pastures. Nonetheless, life in Greece wasn’t as smooth for his family as they had hoped, they struggled to survive.
He has four brothers – two older ones Francis and Thanasis and two younger ones Kostas and Alexis. Giannis parents left their oldest son Francis in the care of his grandparents before leaving Nigeria for Greece. The NBA star and his brothers grew up as skinny schoolkids following the misery and poverty they passed through. Before he became Greece’s home-grown NBA All-Star, the scrawny, hungry kid, and his brothers grew up living with the constant fear of deportation. It was not until May 2013 before Antetokounmpo was granted his full Greek citizenship.
Giannis athleticism was gotten from his parents. His father was a professional footballer and mother a high jumper back in the days. But the NBA star is not the only sibling who inherited his parent’s athletic genes. Three of his brothers are also professional basketball players while the eldest brother Francis played professional football in Nigeria. His brother Thanasis played in the NBA with the New York Knicks and is currently playing for the Spanish club MoraBanc Andorra.
During their struggling years as kids, Giannis and his brother Thanasis were mentored by a local club coach Spiros Velliniatis and a restaurateur in their neighborhood, Giannis Tzikas who supported the hungry youngsters with enough food so they could practice well. In fact, Antetokounmpo has publicly credited his success and rise to stardom to coach Velliniatis.
The athletic and long-limbed star weighs 100 kg and towers at 6 feet 11 inches, a height best suiting for a center than a point guard. While still an NBA prospect and playing in Greece’s second division, Antetokounmpo began making headlines for his agility and skill on the court. He has gotten much stronger right from his rookie year and now possesses the strength to shrug off physical contact to finish at the rim.