Giannis Antetokounmpo posted a poignant question on social media: “Who am I?” he asks. “In Greece I was Nigerian, in Nigeria I was Greek. I was stuck in the middle, living between cultures,” he concludes.
Who am I? In Greece I was Nigerian, in Nigeria I was Greek. I was stuck in the middle, living between cultures. Watch my film, Naija Odyssey, in partnership with @WhatsApp. Now streaming on @PrimeVideo. #TheresNoOneLikeUs pic.twitter.com/mp1xJdsljs
— Giannis Antetokounmpo (@Giannis_An34) September 21, 2022
Antetokounmpo was in New York at the premiere of Naija Odyssey, the short film starring himself and the narration of his life story.
After the screening of the film, Giannis showed off his dance skills to traditional Nigerian rhythms in a video uploaded on YouTube.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has come to represent Greece in the US. Born in Athens of undocumented immigrant parents from Nigeria, the NBA star became a Greek citizen in 2013.
His parents, as illegal immigrants, could not easily find work, so Giannis and his older brother, Thanasis, helped the family finances by hawking watches, handbags, and sunglasses in the streets.
Nine seasons, two MVPs, one Defensive Player of the Year, one Finals MVP and one championship into his NBA career, Greeks have grown accustomed to seeing Giannis Antetokounmpo as their own: The Greek Freak.
His performances in the recent EuroBasket championships along with his brothers made all Greeks proud.
Antetokounmpo: “Always felt like and were Greeks”
The Milwaukee Bucks superstar has never hidden his love for Nigeria, the country of his parents. However, he has said that the whole family “always felt like and were Greeks.”
Although Giannis and his brothers Thanasis, Kostas, and Alex were all born and raised in Greece, their path to citizenship was a long one.
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 until September 2021.
The Antetokounmpo brothers and their mother met with Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou and reflected on their experience of becoming citizens after identifying as Greeks for so many years.
“We were always Greeks and we [have] always consider[ed] Greece our homeland,” Giannis Antetokounmpo had said.