Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak.

The best version of one's self.
WORLD
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Characters team Feb 25. 2017
by Characters team

The son of immigrants from Nigeria, Giannis Antetokounmpo was born in Athens, Greece on December 6, 1994. Three years earlier, his parents had moved from Lagos, Nigeria, to Greece, leaving behind their first born son, Francis, with his grandparents.[5] Even though Antetokounmpo and three of his four brothers were born in Greece, they did not automatically qualify to receive full Greek citizenship.[3] For the first 18 years of his life, Antetokounmpo had no papers, neither from Nigeria, nor from Greece.

Antetokounmpo grew up in the Athens neighborhood of Sepolia. Like other immigrants to Greece, his parents struggled to find work. Antetokounmpo and his older brother, Thanasis, would help out by hawking watches, bags and sunglasses. He started playing basketball in 2007, and by 2009, he was playing competitively for the youth squad of Filathlitikos.
wikipedia


Photo sources:
@Giannis_An34
@Thanasis_ante43
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"Because my parents were illegal, they couldn’t trust anybody. They were always nervous. A neighbor could be like, ‘These people are making too much noise, their children are making too much noise,’ and the cops could knock at our door and ask for our papers and that’s it. It’s that simple. So you’re always a little closed. I’m outgoing when I feel comfortable, but it took me 21 years just to invite a girl to meet my friends. I’m closed too."
sports illustrated

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“The way that he mentors all of his brothers is amazing,” his father, Charles, says. “He will do anything for them. He will spare nothing to make sure that they have exactly what they need. He teaches them about basketball, about life, about priorities. It’s really great to see all of the things that I am passing on to Giannis he is passing on to them.”“That bond is really a strong bond between brothers and family,” Kostas adds. “And I think basketball makes it even stronger.”
npba

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JZ: What made you want to transition to basketball?
GA: It wasn’t height; I wasn’t tall as a kid. One day, Thanasis was, like, “I want to play basketball.” I was, like, “Oh, man!” My father was lecturing us for like three hours straight. “Basketball? You’re talking about basketball?” After, he was, like, “OK, you can play basketball.” I was, like, “I’m not going to be a No. 1 player in soccer.” I was going to spend time with Thanasis because he was older than me, and so I always wanted to be with him. Then Kostas played basketball, then Alex.
NBPA

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Sports24: Which elemenent in your game you have to work on?
Giannis: “There is not only one element. I want to become one of the best players, so if you want to be one the best, you have to elevate all aspects of your game.”
NBA.com

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There was the night in his first season when Antetokounmpo’s agent at Octagon, Alex Saratsis, told him that a Bucks assistant coach believed he wasn’t working hard enough. “You can tell me I’m not playing well,” Antetokounmpo replied, tears in his eyes. “You can tell me I’m not doing the right things. But you cannot tell me this. I won’t accept it.” And there was the night in his second season when the Bucks’ new head coach, Jason Kidd, banned him from shooting three-pointers. “I want to shoot threes,” Antetokounmpo argued. “How can I not shoot threes?” 
sports illustrated

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Sports24: Do you feel ready for the NBA
Yes, I am ready"
(17 September 2013)
NBA.com

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“I don’t care about All-Star. I don’t care about stats,”
If the team wins, there’s no way to be honest with you to not make the All-Star.”
usatoday

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“He’s 21 years old,” Coach Jason Kidd said.
“That’s the most underrated thing about him. He’s 21 years old and doing a lot of things that a lot of us can’t do.”
NYT

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Giannis functions as the family patriarch, with his father adjusting to the United States and his older brother, Thanasis, playing in Spain. When Giannis inked his four-year, $100 million extension in September—after postponing the signing by four hours to accommodate a morning workout—he called Bucks co-owner Wes Edens at his hotel in Ireland. “I just wanted to say thank you for the money,” Antetokounmpo started. “It means so much to me and my family. I’m going to work very hard for it.” Then he offered to buy friends and family steak at the Capital Grille in Milwaukee for lunch. When the meat arrived, with appetizers and side dishes, Giannis looked alarmed. “I don’t know who’s paying for all this,” he cracked, “because I only said I’d get the steak.”
sports illustrated

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Kobe Bryant is one of the best players ever and to have a few minutes in private talking about basketball and what i need to do was very important, and I was very very happy to have this chance.
Thing is, when I see basketball players and famous ones I'm not usually nervous or shocked, but when I saw Kobe I literally was shocked. It was the second time I played against him, but the first time I didn't speak with him. This time, if it wasn't for Jason Kidd telling me to calm down, to talk with Kobe and ask him whatever I wanted, I would still be there like a little kid gawking at him.
Brew hoop

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JZ: You had a big fan turnout in Greece last summer when you and Thanasis showed up at a court in your old neighborhood. Planning to do that again?
GA: Yes. Last summer (2015)  was pretty crazy. Me and Thanasis were just hanging out at our apartment and tweeted like five hours before that we’re going to be there to just play basketball. I thought there would be like 20, 30 guys, but like 2, 3,000 people came. And camera crews from every Greek channel came. It was the court that I was imitating Allen Iverson growing up. I used to have the cornrows. I wanted to be like him, crossing over my little brothers.
MBPA

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JZ: You were drafted in 2013 and your family arrived in Milwaukee in February the following year after they got their Visas. How tough were those first few months for you?
GA: It was the toughest part. I’m a really tough kid, I can handle things by myself, but I was always living with my family. But I knew that I had to leave for a better future. I was always calling my family on Skype and showing them around the apartment, like, “Alex, Kostas, this is your bedroom.” I was, like, “Mom, this is your and dad’s bedroom. This is our living room. This is our kitchen.” And I was seeing the look in my mothers’ eyes. She was, like, “Maybe one day we’ll be able to be there with you.” I was getting mad, but the Bucks helped me with my situation, bringing my family.
MBPA

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JZ: You said you didn’t think you’d be that tall. But you also have massive hands and your Achilles tendon, according to ESPN, is almost double the length of the average adult male’s. Do you ever just look at yourself or the mirror sometimes and say, “What the—?”
GA: I do sometimes, man. My father is 6’6″ and my mother is like 6’0″, and I’m, like, “How did the hell this happen? Long arms, long hands” [he looks back and forth at his palms]. I don’t know, man—just blessed.
MBPA

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Antetokounmpo lives in a modest three-story townhouse near Saint Francis de Sales Seminary, in the same complex as his parents. Like any hoop phenom, he subsists on Wingstop and NBA TV. But when he needs to steady himself amid his unimpeded ascent, he heads west to Omega restaurant, where 24 hours a day he can order gyros and lamb chops with sides of nostalgia and perspective. “I think about where I was four years ago, on the streets, and where I am today, able to take care of my kids and my grandkids and their grandkids,” Antetokounmpo marvels. “I’m not saying that in a cocky way or a disrespectful way. But it is a crazy story, isn’t it?
Sports  Illustrated

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Giannis describes himself as a player and talks about his vision.

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