The “Greek Freak” against all odds:
Getting to know him today, all you can see is a basketball superstar that stops at nothing, but who could even think of that a few years ago about Giannis Antetokounmpo? Just imagine that a poor immigrant youngster from Nigeria made it to the NBA against all odds, just six years after first picking up a ball. With passion, love, and dedication to his goals, today the “Greek Freak“” is considered as one of the best players in the league turning his sad story childhood into a miraculous basketball fairytale.
The early days in the neighborhood of Sepolia, Athens
Being an immigrant is a very tough situation in any part of the world, let alone in Greece, where the economic crisis is thriving. In his early days, Giannis alongside his siblings had to sell different kind of things like watches, bags, and sunglasses, just to make ends meet. The continuous quest for money made it hard to pay rent and as Giannis has admitted in the past, the whole family even got evicted once.
With barely no place for dreams during the hard daily reality, the story of his sports life begins with his father’s passion for soccer. Being a former professional soccer player in Nigeria, Gianni’s father kindly directed his kids towards soccer and it is a fact that Giannis and Thanasis used to play soccer every day in the streets of Athens. Luckily enough though, both kids were discovered on the street and got scouted to play for Filathlitikos, a secondary league Athens club at that time. And here is where the story begins as the kid that had to share one pair of shoes with his older brother, put aside his embarrassment and focused on helping his family.
Fulfilling the NBA dream
Earning his spot at the club Filathlitikos, which is a big deal for any starting athlete, was a fortunate start for an athlete of his talent, but it was just a start indeed. Giannis really loved his team. He was devoted to hard work every single day trying to learn every position so he could help his team even more (Read more about: 5 Ways to improve your basketball game). He started there at youth teams and risen to the first team very fast. By the time he turned 16, he gained some avid fans as the “Next Big Thing” of Greek basketball while at 18 every major team in Europe had their eyes over him.
He eventually ended up signing a four-year deal with Spanish club CAI Zaragoza but what truly mattered was that he entered the 2013 NBA draft, where he got drafted by the Bucks in the ”lucky” number 15!
Giannis Antetokounmpo stood out right from the start. With a name that no one could pronounce but with undeniable passion and talent, he created his own position and changed the way Bucks approached their offense. It is more than obvious that his coaches had to put a lot of trust in him so that today he has the confidence to play his game.
Recent success and achievements
Through the very recent years, Giannis Antetokounmpo achieved numerous accomplishments, became a top and respected player in Milwaukee Bucks and eventually was named a starter on the Eastern Conference All-Star team for the 2017 NBA All-Star Game! He was then just 22 years of age which made him the youngest player in history to start in an All-Star Game. However, that was not the best thing that happened to him so far, since he was named the recipient of the NBA Most Improved Player award for the 2016–17 season, becoming the first player in Bucks history to be named Most Improved Player.
Antetokounmpo – A true inspiration for any young athlete
Giannis has proven many times in the recent years that nothing stops those who dream big and fight for their talent. The new season is about to start pretty soon and he is determined to overcome one of the greatest difficulties of his life, the loss of his beloved father, and go beyond himself and reach the top. If anything, Giannis is a true inspiration who keeps teaching us that life’s difficulties are only small throwbacks that endorse the sense of success when it finally knocks our door.
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