by Gabriel Gross
Giannis Antetokounmpo was born in 1994, and in 2013, at only 19 years of age he was drafted into the NBA. Giannis is one of if not the most dominant players in the NBA. He is a coach’s dream, standing at 6 feet, 11 inches, and an absolute killer on the court. Giannis’ athleticism and all-around mentality have earned him the nickname “the Greek Freak.”
Before Giannis was born, his parents, Charles and Veronica Antetokounmpo, illegally immigrated to Greece from Nigeria because of the lack of livable wage opportunities. In doing so, they had to leave behind their son, Francis, who did not rejoin the family in Greece until years later. Giannis was the third and last son of the Antetokoumpo’s. While growing up, no one in the family had legal Greek citizenship papers, and because of this, it was difficult for the parents to find jobs. Giannis and his brothers sold items in the streets to help out, even though they were at risk of being caught and deported back to Nigeria.
Giannis first touched a basketball at the age of thirteen. He had caught the eye of a coach, presumably because of his height, and for the next three years, he trained very hard. Incredibly, in 2011 at only age sixteen he began playing for a professional team in Greece, called Filathlitikos. Giannis shot up to 6 feet, 11 inches, and with his explosive speed and excellent court vision, he caught the attention of NBA scouts.
When Giannis was drafted to the NBA in 2013, he was a 15th overall pick and was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks, which he has stayed with throughout his NBA career. In the 2016-17 season, Giannis’ team was good enough to make the playoffs, but they ended up losing in the first round. That year, Giannis won the Most Improved Player Award. The Bucks’ staff made some coaching changes during the 2017-18 season, and for good measure, because they finished the next season with the best record in the league. This time, Giannis won the MVP, Most Valuable Player Award. The following 2020-21 season is perhaps Giannis’ most memorable. The Bucks made the playoffs, but it was not looking good because they were in a hole, down two games. This is when Giannis started to pick it up. He carried his team to four wins and the title. It was a tremendous performance by Giannis, and in the last game he scored 50 points! Giannis was awarded the MVP of the finals, balancing 35.2 points on the series along with 13.2 rebounds and 5.0 assists.
Although Giannis’ main game plan is to take the ball to the basket, his three-point shot keeps getting better and better. Already, nobody can stop him going to the rim, so if he is able to shoot consistently, he will be unstoppable. Giannis is quite possibly the most versatile player in basketball history and he has a growing body of fans that cannot wait to see all of the records he will break in his future.
About Gabe Gross
Gabriel Gross is an eighth grader at St. Thomas school in Peoria Heights. He is the Student Council president. He plans to go to Richwoods and apply for the IB program. He loves baseball, basketball, and traveling. He also enjoys learning about history and how much it has changed our lives today.