In the 2013 NBA draft, the Milwaukee Bucks drafted Giannis Antetokounmpo with the 15th overall pick. Compared to his fellow draftees, Giannis went through a very difficult journey to get to the NBA.
The 18-year old Antetokounmpo was born in Athens. Giannias and his family were illegal immigrants because parents emigrated from Nigeria in 1991. They lived in poverty
The family lived in Greece for almost 20 years without citizenship which made work, and a place to live hard to come by. His parents, Charles and Veronica, had to move from place to place to avoid police and immigration control officers for fear they would get deported. He told OnMilwaulkee.com:
“For 20 years they were illegal. It’s very hard to live for 20 years without papers…At any moment, the cops can stop you and say come over here and let me send you back to your country.”
Giannis and his four brothers, Thanassis, Kostas, and Alex, would help their parents with money for food and rent by selling various items in the streets. The four brothers would sell DVDs, hats, bags, and sunglasses.
Luckily basketball changed everything. In their spare time, Giannis and his brothers would play basketball together. One day Greek coach Spiros Velliniatis noticed Giannis and helped him sign with the Greek national team. Giannis was then eventually able to gain Greek citizenship.
This year, he was taken 15th in the NBA draft and he told OnMilwaulkee.com:
“I still can’t believe this is happening. It’ll be nice that family can be here and be away from anything that’s happening in Greece. But I love my country. Greece is my country.”
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.