Giannis and Thanasis Antetokounmpo, the Greek brothers who propelled the Milwaukee Bucks to their first NBA championship in 50 years, fulfilled their promise to take their trophy back to Sepolia, the gritty Athens working class neighborhood where they grew up and shot their first basketball hoops as kids.
Born in Greece to Nigerian immigrant parents, the Antetokounmpo brothers had to sell DVDs and bracelets on the street to provide for their family. They grew up fearing deportation since Greece’s doesn’t recognize children of foreign-born immigrants.
They did not obtain Greek citizenship until 2013, after being drafted by the NBA.
“I am very, very happy that one of the biggest trophies in the world is in Greece right now,” Giannis said upon arrival at Athens International Airport, where thousands of fans awaited their arrival.
“It’s an incredible thing. We don’t know how many days we’ll stay, but we definitely want to take it back to Sepolia and the places we grew up.”
Giannis– dubbed “the Greek Freak”– was the dominant player in the finals series against the Phoenix Suns, scoring 50 points in the last game and winning the Most Valuable Player award.
The brothers’ extraordinary rise from Sepolia to the NBA has seized the imagination of the whole of Greece, where basketball normally trails football in popularity.
The neighborhood will also be the focal point of a Disney film about Giannis’ rise to the top of the NBA. Filming is supposed to begin in September for the biopic.
In their old neighborhood, rarely celebrated in the headlines, a giant mural of Giannis in his Milwaukee Bucks jersey, across the court where he and his brothers played and practiced, is testament to the pride felt in his success.
“This journey has been crazy. If you told me eight years ago that I’d be in this position, along with Thanasis, and we’d have the NBA trophy with us, and that we can take it anywhere we wanted, I’d say you’re crazy,” he said.
“But it’s all been done with hard work – and we haven’t stopped. We don’t stop, as a family. That’s what we saw all our lives, our parents never stopped, we’d get back home after school, after practice and we saw our parents constantly working, every day to feed us.”
Is The Pappas Post worth $5 a month for all of the content you read? On any given month, we publish dozens of articles that educate, inform, entertain, inspire and enrich thousands who read The Pappas Post. I’m asking those who frequent the site to chip in and help keep the quality of our content high — and free. Click here and start your monthly or annual support today. If you choose to pay (a) $5/month or more or (b) $50/year or more then you will be able to browse our site completely ad-free!