Five things you didn't know about NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo

The 24-year-old had a stand-out year with the Milwaukee Bucks, but did you know these facts about the 'Greek Freak'?

3 min By ZK Goh

Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the most recognisable basketball players in the world.

The National Basketball Association Most Valuable Player is currently playing for Greece at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup in China.

Standing 6-foot-11 (2.11m) tall, the forward has had a meteoric rise to the top since his youth which was spent selling fake goods on the streets of Athens to help his family get by.

But what are some things you might not know about the man they call the 'Greek Freak'?

Football was his first love

He might spend his time around hoops now, but that didn't use to be the case for a young Antetokounmpo.

Giannis' late father, Charles, and older brother Francis both played football.

Growing up, Giannis supported the Greek team Olympiakos, and his favourite players were Brazil's Giovanni and Arsenal's French striker Thierry Henry.

Antetokounmpo wasn't his original surname

Giannis Anteteokounmpo's parents, Charles and Veronica, are from Lagos, Nigeria.

Charles was an ethnic Yoruba and Veronica is an ethnic Igbo.

The family's original surname was Adetokunbo, but when Giannis applied for formal Greek papers, 'Adetokunbo' was transliterated into the Greek Αντετοκούνμπο, which is spelled in English 'Antetokounmpo'.

Family affair for the Antetokounmpos

Aside from footballer Francis, who stayed in Lagos after their parents moved to Greece, three other Antetokounmpo brothers play basketball.

Kostas was involved in Greece's pre-World Cup selection camp but didn't make the final team, and youngest brother Alex is currently playing college basketball.

The other brother, Thanasis, is on the Greek World Cup roster alongside Giannis. (Thanasis is also on the same NBA team, the Milwaukee Bucks, as Giannis.)

Together, they are called the "Antetokounbros", and have their own Basketball Academy and Foundation, which has renovated courts in Athens and help underprivileged kids play the sport.

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From stateless to dual citizen

Antetokounmpo was born in Athens, but as neither of his parents were legally in Greece or Greek citizens, he was unable to gain Greek citizenship.

Neither could he obtain Nigerian citizenship.

For the first 18 years of his life, Giannis was stateless, and couldn't travel or represent the country of his birth.

In 2013, he received his Greek papers in time to attend that year's NBA Draft. And, two years later, he acquired a Nigerian passport, too.

"It’s important. It’s part of who I am. Both of my parents are Nigerian. They wanted me to get it. I wanted to have it, so I got it," he told The Undefeated.

Ideal holiday and food

Giannis doesn't have to travel out of his home country for his ideal holiday destination.

His favourite vacation spot? The Greek island of Santorini.

And, when his athlete's diet allows, he has a soft spot for souvlaki: Greek skewered meat.

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