NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo has revealed that he has gotten his Nigerian passport as he tries to connect with his roots.
Antetokounmpo was born in Greeks to Nigerian parents Charles and Veronica Adetokunbo who moved to the European country from Lagos in 1993.
It was in Greeks that Antetokounmpo grew up and started playing basketball at the age of seven. His name, originally Adetokunbo became Antetokounmpo after a misspelling in his Greek passport.
After kicking off his basketball career in Greece, he was selected 15th overall in the first round of the 2013 NBA draft by the Milwaukee Bucks.
Now 24, Adetokunbo is now a bonafide NBA star and a three-time All-Star.
“Obviously, a lot of people don’t know where I’m from,” Milwaukee Bucks All-Star told The Undefeated.
“A lot of people think my mom or my dad is from Greece, but no. Both of my parents are black. Both of my parents are Nigerian.”
Even though he grew up in Greece, the basketball star said he was brought up in the Nigerian way.
“I grew up in a Nigerian home,” the three-time All-Star 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,” he said.
The 24-year-old said he understands little Igbo, the language of the Igbo tribe in Nigeria where his mother comes from.
“I can understand it a little bit. I can count. It’s not like I’m fluent,” Antetokounmpo said of Igbo.
“It’s not like I can go back home to Nigeria and they can understand what I am saying. It’s kind of funny.
Antetokounmpo’s dad Charles who died in 2017 was from the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria.
“Both my parents are from Nigeria. But Nigeria is like 250 dialects, so my mom and my dad don’t speak the same language,” the Greek basketballer added.
Antetokounmpo has never been to Nigeria, but he is planning a trip to his parents’ country in the summer of 2018.
“I want to see where my family comes from, where my mom was raised, see my family, see where my dad was raised,” he said.
Antetokounmpo got his Nigerian passport in 2015.
“There are a lot of people that I see and I tell them that I am African. I am not just ‘The Greek Freak,’ ” Antetokounmpo said.
Antetokounmpo is in the running for the 2019 NBA MVP award following his good form so far this season. The Milwaukee Bucks guard is averaging 27.1 points, 12.6 rebounds and six assists.