Giannis Antetokonumpo and his parents
The Antetokounmpo family has a lot to be thankful for. Not only is Giannis the reigning MVP and leader of the league-best Milwaukee Bucks, but older brother Thanasis plays alongside him and Kostas has been in and out of the Lakers lineup all season.
None of this would’ve been possible without the support of their parents. The Antetokounmpo brothers have been vocal about this since they entered the NBA.
Charles and Veronica Antetokounmpo were both born and raised in Nigeria and emigrated to Greece early on, reports the Olympic Channel. As struggling immigrants, the Antetokounmpo family had to put up with a lot of racism and other hurdles, but this helped drive them toward the NBA.
The family’s Nigerian roots helped anchor their lives at home. In a country that treated them like they were unwanted, the family remembered its roots as it experienced everyday life. Giannis spoke about his home with The Undefeated.
“Obviously, I was born in Greece and went to school in Greece. But at the end of the day when I go home, there is no Greek culture,” Giannis said. “It’s straight-up Nigerian culture. It’s about discipline; it’s about respecting your elders, having morals.”
The Antetokounmpo parents spoke in Igbo, their native tongue, when they were at home. The family was full of perennial outsiders, but it was through basketball that they began to get noticed by those who had scorned them.
Charles and Veronica Antetokounmpo were both athletes, although neither were basketball players. Charles was a soccer player in Nigeria; Veronica was a high-jumper. So while they may not have been versed in basketball, they knew what it took to be a competitor.
Giannis’s first love wasn’t basketball. As a kid, he followed in his father’s footsteps and took a liking to soccer. The eldest brother, Francis, was also a soccer player, so the athletic genes ran in the family. Perhaps thanks to his size, however, Giannis’s interests went to the sport he’s synonymous with.
When Giannis was a teenager and got serious about basketball, his father did everything in his power to ensure his son did what he needed to do to realize his dreams. At 14 years old, Charles insisted his son take a nap on game days to keep himself refreshed for the game. It’s a tradition Giannis continues to this day.
The Antetokounmpo family has always thrived thanks to the love and support of their parents. But a personal tragedy in 2017 altered their lives forever. Charles, only 53 at the time, was taken to the hospital with severe chest pains. Ten days later, he passed away. Heartbroken, Giannis took to Instagram to eulogize his father and thank him for everything he did.
“It’s been a year daddy, so many things have happened since the day you left for a better place and I know you been watching down on us with a smile just like the one in the picture. I think about you every single day and I miss you very much but September 29th is not going to be a sad day in my calendar but a day that I cherish what a great father and role model me and my brothers have in our life. I love you very much.”
Charles’ legacy lives on through his family. Giannis’s newborn son, Liam Charles Antetokounmpo, serves as a testament to the hard work his parents instilled in their family.