Rise, the story of Giannis, Thanasis, and Kostas Antetokounmpo and how they made history as the first trio of brothers to claim a championship ring, premieres on June 24th.
The film by Disney+ which was partially filmed in Greece dives into the Antetokounmpo brothers’ life and their winding journey to becoming NBA Champions with Giannis and Thanasis representing the Milwaukee Bucks and Kostas representing the Los Angeles Lakers.
Giannis posted a tweet showing how it all started for the Antetokounmpo brothers in Sepolia, Athens compared to how it’s going.
How it started…how it's going ,🙌🏾💚💙 pic.twitter.com/ao19l1PQHg
— Giannis Antetokounmpo (@Giannis_An34) June 23, 2022
“[We are] thrilled and honored that Disney+ is bringing [our] family’s story to people all over the world,” the two-time NBA MVP said.
“[Our] hope,” the brothers said, “is that it will inspire those in similar circumstances to keep the faith, stay true to their goals and not to give up on striving for a better life.”
Since dominating the NBA, Giannis Antetokounmpo has become a favorite as one of the world’s finest basketball players. He has won the NBA Championship and received the titles of Finals MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, and League MVP.
Initially, to be titled after the iconic “Greek Freak” nickname, the film was later renamed Rise as Giannis Antetokounmpo revealed that it was about more than just his own individual journey. It was also about the journey of his family.
“Everybody talks about us, about me, Thanasis, Kostas, and Alex, and Francis, but they always leave out our parents you know, my dad and my mom,” Giannis said.
“So, you know, we knew that one day we were going to tell them, like, who the real heroes of this story are, of this journey,” Giannis said assertively.
Rise follows the Antetokounmpo family’s hardships
The film follows their parents, Charles and Vera (Veronica) Antetokounmpo, and their hardships moving from Nigeria to Greece as refugees struggling to survive and provide for their five children while living under the daily threat of deportation.
The film also exposes the heartbreaks of securing citizenship in Greece through a flawed immigration system that “blocked them at every turn.”
When they weren’t selling items to tourists on the streets of Athens with the rest of the family, the brothers, Giannis and Thanasis, would play basketball with a local youth team.
They developed a passion and talent for basketball through joining a local youth team. From there, the brothers got drafted into the NBA powerhouse franchises.
The two older brothers are played in their younger years by real-life brothers Uche and Ral Agada.
“I was just layin’ in bed one day and I was goin’ on Instagram. And I see a screenshot of a tweet that Giannis put out saying that Disney’s making a movie about his life and his family’s life and they’re looking for someone to play him and his brothers,” Uche said.
“So, I just clicked on a link and I just sent a video, just talking about myself,” Uche revealed. “A few months later, I got a call back. And for me, I was never an actor prior to this, so this was very weird for me. So, when it said callback with a director of a movie, in my mind, I’m like, yo, that’s crazy. But I did that callback and did another callback. And eventually they told me I got the part, which is absolutely incredible.”
“And then, [a] couple [of] weeks later, they asked me if I had any siblings,” said Uche, “and I said I had an older brother” which led to the casting of his brother, Ral.
The cast also includes Dayo Okeniyi, Yetide Badaki, Manish Dayal, and Taylor Nichols.
Rise was directed by Akin Omotoso, written by Amel, and produced by Bernie Goldmann. Giannis Antetokounmpo is credited as an executive producer alongside Douglas S. Jones.
The film also includes original music co-written and performed by the eldest Antetokounmpo son, Francis, who is known under the stage name Ofili.