‘Now I know why I operate the way I operate’: Giannis shares his 1st trip home to Nigeria in new doc

Abu Mubarik January 19, 2024
Photo: Whatsapp

Nigerian-Greek basketball star Giannis Antetokounmpo recently made a trip to Nigeria 35 years after his parents’ relocation. The NBA star has documented his trip in a film titled “Ugo: A Homecoming Story.”

He landed in his parents’ country of birth last summer accompanied by his mother and film crew, including director Rick Famuyiwa, who is also the son of Nigerian immigrants. The documentary captures how the Milwaukee Bucks star returned to his roots to discover where the story started for him.

His parents moved from Lagos, Nigeria to Athens, Greece in 1991, for career opportunities. His father Charles Antetokounmpo died of a heart attack at the age of 54, in 2017.

The trip offered Giannis Antetokounmpo the opportunity to reconnect with his family members and his multicultural heritage.

“It was a great and humbling experience for me,” he told Essence. “I had the opportunity to go to a couple places and interact with the people, and talk to kids. I was like, yeah, now I know why I operate the way I operate. Now I know who I am, the way I am, because I’m just like one of them.”

Touching on returning to Nigeria in the future, he said, “It’s going to be an annual thing now. My kids are young, maybe they won’t be able to make the trip to understand where we’re from, and for them to be able to ask the right questions, but I’m going again. I want to take my wife there. And as my kids get older, I want to take my kids there too.

“I want them to understand what sacrifice my parents made in order for us to be able to do what we do, live our dream, and be in the position that we are today.”

This is not the first time the Nigerian would talk about his upbringing and Nigerian heritage. In an interview with The Undefeated in 2019, Giannis Antetokounmpo spoke about his upbringing in a Nigerian household in Greece and how it has shaped his life.

“I grew up in a Nigerian home,” he said. “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. It’s straight-up Nigerian culture. It’s about discipline, it’s about respecting your elders, having morals.”

In that interview, he expressed his desire to visit Nigeria. However, when he decided to visit, the COVID-19 pandemic destroyed it due to travel restrictions.

“I want to see where my family comes from, where my mom was raised, see my family, see where my dad was raised. That is very important. I hope my kids can do the same thing for me,” he said. “Obviously, I am going to have kids that are going to grow up in the U.S., but one day I hope they can go back [to Greece] and visit and see where I grew up, the playground I was playing.”

Giannis Antetokounmpo’s new documentary was done with WhatsApp. He has a partnership with the platform. Watch the documentary below:

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: January 22, 2024

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