Giannis Antetokounmpo, the two-time NBA MVP and one of the league’s brightest stars, recently shared his connection to his African heritage.
Born in Athens, Greece, to Nigerian immigrant parents, Giannis has always been a prominent figure in both Greek basketball and culture.
During an interview on the “48 Minutes” podcast, Giannis was asked about his identity and whether he considers himself more Greek or Nigerian.
In his response, he expressed that his values and principles are strongly influenced by his Nigerian upbringing. Growing up in a Nigerian household with Nigerian parents, he embraced the Nigerian culture.
Giannis also acknowledged the Greek and European influences in his life, particularly due to his education and friendships. He recognized the duality of his identity, stating, “It’s a little bit of both.”
“I think my values and principles probably my Nigerian side because whenever I went home, my parents are Nigerian, so we grew up in Nigerian household… but the way I operate it’s a little big Greek, it’s a little bit European because I went to school, most of my friends are Greek and European. It’s a little but of both,” the Bucks star said.
Drawing a parallel with basketball legend Hakeem Olajuwon, who was born in Nigeria but represented the USA in international play, Giannis emphasized that despite representing Greece on the basketball court, his Nigerian heritage remains an integral part of his identity.
“I don’t if Hakeem [Olajuwon] was born in Nigeria, I think he was, but he represented the USA team. He never represented the Nigerian team,” he said. “And I pretty much do the same thing. I was born in Greece, I represent the Greek team, but at the end of he day everybody know that I’m Nigeria.”
He shared a personal experience of visiting Nigeria with his mother during the summer, where he had the opportunity to connect with his extended family and explore his Nigerian roots.
Giannis concluded, “Everybody knows that at the end of the day, I’m African, I’m Nigerian. That’s pretty much it, I’m African, I’m Nigerian.”