Even though we know plenty of stories about tough childhoods and growing up in hostile environments, there are some others capable of making us feel overwhelmed when we hear them and those stories are the ones that are really valuable if you want to learn about the meaning of life and never giving up.
We know the history of players such as LeBron James with a rough childhood, struggling to find places to live and still making his way towards greatness, but today we’re going to talk about another guy; one who despite having lots and lots of money prefers to save it and live with only the necessary.
With one of the most humble and saddest backgrounds, we are going to talk about Giannis Antetokounmpo and all the things he did to be who he is today, narrating the extremely hard journey responsible for making Giannis the man we know today.
Born in Athens, Giannis didn’t have the most pleasant childhood, as the small forward had to sell several things (even his own toys) alongside his brother Thanasis in order to earn some cash to be able to grab a bite to eat. “We would be out on the street together, selling a toy, a watch, something, and we'd raise $10”, his brother Thanasis said.
In fact, the Milwaukee Bucks’ rising star spent almost $400 on a PS4 when he got paid once in the NBA, but he felt forced to sell it to one of the team’s assistants due to the guilt he felt because he had spent all that money when the rest of his family was dealing with migration issues and lack of money back in Greece.
Fortunately for Antetokounmpo however, he was able to buy it back when his family arrived, showing off one of the most humble character traits you’ll ever see, outfitting his place with hand-made furniture and saving every single penny to share it with his sick mother and his father, who struggled to hold down a steady job due to his Nigerian roots.
Giannis and his brother were used to working so hard that they weren’t even familiarized with restaurant menus, and neither wanted to spend more than was just barely necessary for food despite having steady paychecks and succeeding in the States, as this dialogue from a brotherly lunch in Philadelphia illustrates:
"Get whatever you want to eat," Giannis told Thanasis.
Together, they stared at the entrees.
"Whatever you want," Giannis told him again.
Together, they stared. And they stared.
"I took the salad," Thanasis finally said. "He did the same thing."
"Let's do something with our lives, so we never have to do this again," Thanasis told his younger brother.
It’s pretty safe to say that when both told each other that they would accomplish big things with their lives and do something meaningful, they didn’t just leave it at that because they also worked their butts off to pursue their basketball dreams.
Giannis is now playing in arguably the best league in the world of any major sport, the NBA, while his brother is playing high-level basketball too. The Antetokounmpo brothers have left behind those days where they had nothing to eat and had to sell anything in order to do so, but those experiences made the youngest one, Giannis, stay humble even if he has the world at his feet.
Giannis has demonstrated he doesn’t need much to live by as he barely spends money on the necessary things. Being one of the biggest stars in NBA nowadays might pump up anyone’s ego, but the Greek Freak stays real and humble.
Antetokounmpo arrived in Milwaukee after being catalogued as one of the most promising players in Europe, as he was playing in the Greek 2nd division at only 17 years of age, and after seeing his talents on the court, the Bucks decided to draft him, even without any previous test.
Right now, he’s the unquestioned leader of Jason Kidd’s team, leading the team in every game and encouraging his teammates when needed. Antetokounmpo just finished his best season in the NBA so far, putting up great numbers every night it seemed, as he finished with averages of 22.9 points, 8.7 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game in his fourth season as an NBA player, getting the opportunity to play in his first All-Star game as well.
He came from a country with talented forwards such as Baby Shaq and Sofoklis Schortsanitis, but there is no doubt that Giannis is something that Greece has never seen before.
He has the talent and the tools to become one of the best players on planet Earth, and with a bit more hard work, he’ll surely be among the best basketballers in the world. For now though, he's just enjoying his time in the Association, trying to make his team a contender for the Larry O'Brien trophy, even if it looks to be an impossible mission in Milwaukee.
Giannis is set to make himself a big star in the NBA, wanting to take the Bucks to the Finals, and if you ask him, they can definitely do it. They have a bunch of talented players among their ranks and perhaps besides the Minnesota Timberwolves, Milwaukee is the best up-and-coming team in the league.
This guy is only 22 and he is already the face of an NBA franchise, so there is nothing but success ahead for Giannis. All he needs to do is stay healthy, stay humble and stay hungry if he wants to have a long and successful run in the big leagues, something that should prove to be simple judging by his past.