Greek NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo visited the Greek President’s mansion on Friday, along with his mother Veronica and brother Alex, who just received Greek citizenship yesterday.
Although Giannis and his brothers Thanasis, Kostas, who also play for the NBA, and Alex were all born and raised in Greece, their path to citizenship was a long one. Their parents came to Greece from Nigeria illegally in search of a better life for their kids.
Both Giannis and Thanasis, his younger brother, became Greek citizens in 2013, just a few months before the NBA draft that year. Three years later, Kostas Antetokounmpo became a citizen of the Hellenic Republic.
Their mother Veronica, however, and her youngest son Alex, did not become Greek citizens at the time.
“We were always Greeks” – Giannis Antetokounmpo reflects on long citizenship process
That changed on Thursday, when Veronika and Alex officially became Greek citizens in a ceremony that was attended by Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Greek Prime Minister, at the Prime Minister’s Mansion.
The Antetokounmpo brothers and their mother met with Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou on Friday and reflected on their experience of becoming citizens after identifying as Greeks for so many years.
“We were always Greeks and we always consider Greece our homeland,” Giannis, who recently became the NBA Champion, stated on Friday.
He noted that he and his brothers were born and raised in Greece, went to school in the country, speak the language, and understand the culture.
The Greek President congratulated Alex and Veronika for becoming Greek citizens, and expressed that the Antetokounmpo brothers have now become role models for many young people both in Greece and throughout the world.
Sakellaropoulou described the now well-known qualities of the Antetokounmpo family, stating: “your love for your country and family, what you offer to those in need, these are very important things.”
Alex Antetokounmpo also a basketball talent
During the ceremony yesterday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis expressed similar praise for the talented family.
After congratulating them, Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis, at the ceremony, stressed that the Antetokounmpo family, who are “now all Greek citizens, reflects the Greece that we want.”
“The Greece that tries, fights, and overcomes difficulties, and keeps her family together. It is the Greece that makes us all proud,” Mitsotakis continued.
He thanked and congratulated Veronika specifically, for “raising amazing children with dignity and ethos.”
Alex currently plays basketball professionally for the Spanish team UCAM Murcia. Much like his brothers, Antetokounmpo is an amazing talent at the sport, and signed a three-year contract with the team when he was just 17 years of age.
Although he’s now a pro in European basketball, the young athlete spent many years in Wisconsin, where he moved with his family to attend high school in 2013.
Upon moving to the U.S., Alex did not speak any English at all, but he has since mastered the language.
Despite spending his formative years in the U.S., the youngest Antetokoumpo brother has always felt a deep connection to his native land and culture, always considering himself a Greek.