Giannis Antetokounmpo, a Nigerian-Greek NBA player, visited Nigeria 35 years after his parents relocated there. The NBA player has detailed his journey in the film “Ugo: A Homecoming Story.”
He arrived in his parents’ country of birth last summer, accompanied by his mother and a film crew that included director Rick Famuyiwa, the son of Nigerian immigrants. The documentary follows the Milwaukee Bucks star as he returns to his roots to uncover where his journey began.
His parents relocated from Lagos, Nigeria, to Athens, Greece, in 1991 to pursue employment prospects. In 2017, his father, Charles Antetokounmpo, died of a heart attack at 54 years old.
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 has spoken about his upbringing and Nigerian ethnicity. In a 2019 interview with The Undefeated, Giannis Antetokounmpo discussed growing up in a Nigerian household in Greece and its impact on 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: