Giannis Sina Ugo Antetokounmpo emerged one of Time’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2020. Though three other Nigerians also made the list—serial entrepreneur, Tony Elumelu; Nigerian-American novelist, Tomi Adeyemi; and Rotarian, Dr Tunji Funsho—Antetokounmpo is the youngest.
Also, he and Megan Pete, 25-year-old American rapper are the youngest on the entire list.
An acclaimed basketball wizard with America’s Milwaukee Bucks, Antetokounmpo’s ground-breaking career has earned him countless awards and glories. But in his accomplished young life are five remarkable facts that make his story even more fascinating.
- Parentage: Antetokounmpo was born to Nigerian parents who lived in Greece. His late father Charles was Yoruba, his mother Veronica is Igbo. His parents who moved to Greece in 1991 and had him three years after, struggled economically for much of his childhood.
- Stateless for 18 years: For this long, Antetokounmpo was “effectively stateless, having no papers from Nigeria or Greece” – given that his parents were not Greek citizens and Greek law required at least one parent to be a citizen for a child to become one. Though a Nigeria by virtue of his parents being the same, for some reason he had no official Nigerian documents to back it up.
- A street hawker: As immigrants without legal status, things were so hard for his parents that Antetokounmpo and his elder brother, also a celebrated basketballer, helped out by hawking watches, handbags and sunglasses in the streets. In fact, due to the hawking and struggles for survival, they had trouble attending basketball practices in the clubs where they played as starters. Still, they changed their stories through sheer hard work and perseverance.
- How he got his name: After receiving Greek citizenship in 2013, his Yoruba surname—Adetokunbo—was “Romanized” to its Greek equivalent Antetokounmpo. As an immigrant with a hard start already, he might have voluntarily adopted the Greek version for career purposes. His elder brother Rotimi also bears Antetokounmpo but is more popularly known as Thanasis, the Greek version of his English name Athanasius.
- Net worth: Antetokounmpo was worth a whopping $47.6 million as of June this year. A devout Christian, he and his brothers pledged $100,000 this March to a staff of Milwaukee basketball arena who were unable to work given the pandemic. Being NBA’s most valuable player for 2019 and 2020, the “Greek Freak,” as he has been nicknamed, stands to only get richer for a career that has many years ahead.