Charles and Veronica Antetokounmpo hail from Nigeria but found their home in Greece in 1991. They raised five sons together: Francis, Thanasis, Kostas, Alex, and their NBA superstar, Giannis. Although Francis stayed behind in Nigeria initially, the other four brothers grew up in Athens. For years, the family lacked citizenship in any country. However, Giannis became a Greek citizen in May 2013, shortly before his NBA draft.
A Family of Achievers
The Antetokounmpos are a talented and tightly-knit clan. Charles and Francis played professional soccer, while the other four brothers made their mark in the NBA. Notably, Kostas won an NBA championship with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020, while Giannis and Thanasis clinched the title with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2021. Their incredible athletic pursuits and close bond inspired the 2022 Disney+ biopic “Rise.”
An Immigrant’s Struggle
As undocumented immigrants in Greece, Charles and Veronica Antetokounmpo faced daily struggles to provide for their families. Odd jobs and labor work were their means of making ends meet. The Antetokounmpo brothers even sold goods on the street to support their parents’ income until 2012. The family shared a small space, with the four brothers sharing a single bed.
Despite growing up in Greece, the Antetokounmpo brothers remained connected to their Nigerian heritage. Veronica Antetokounmpo spoke to her sons in Igbo, one of Nigeria’s official languages. Giannis got a Nigerian passport in 2015, embracing his heritage.
Charles and Veronica Antetokounmpo Athletic Legacy
Charles and Veronica Antetokounmpo’s athletic backgrounds played a pivotal role in shaping their children’s careers. A professional soccer player, Charles used his skills to enhance their basketball talents. Giannis, in particular, acknowledged the profound impact of his parents’ guidance and support.
A Father’s Untimely Passing
Tragedy struck in 2017 when Charles died from a heart attack at 54. Giannis and his family mourned the loss of a beloved father and husband. Veronica Antetokounmpo continued to attend NBA games and remained a source of strength for her sons.
Immigration to the U.S.
In 2014, the Antetokounmpo family moved to the United States to be closer to Giannis, who was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2013. Overcoming visa challenges, they joined him in Wisconsin. It was a significant adjustment, as Giannis felt lonely and homesick during his rookie season.
A New Surname
The family’s original Yoruba surname is Adétòkunbọ̀. However, due to a misspelling on Giannis’ Greek passport, they adopted Antetokounmpo. Giannis remains proud of his Nigerian heritage and name.
Charles and Veronica Antetokounmpo provided unwavering support to Giannis throughout his NBA journey. They attended his games and assisted with various aspects of his life, including paying bills and driving him to the airport. Veronica kept a watchful eye on social media and continued to be an avid fan.
Fear of Deportation
As undocumented immigrants, Charles and Veronica refrained from forming close relationships outside their family in Greece due to deportation fears. The Antetokounmpo children were also anxious about their parents’ potential deportation, adding to their childhood challenges.
In 2021, Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou granted Greek citizenship to Veronica Antetokounmpo and Alex, the last two Antetokounmpos to obtain it. Giannis expressed pride in his Nigerian heritage and appreciated the recognition of their Greek identity.
Basketball Fashion Icon
Happy birthday Mommy I will always love you!!! pic.twitter.com/CuttfW5Q43
— Giannis Antetokounmpo (@Giannis_An34) April 7, 2015
Veronica Antetokounmpo made waves during the 2020 NBA All-Star Game with her custom basketball purse covered in autographs, including those of LeBron James and her son, Giannis. She remains a devoted and proud supporter of her children’s achievements.
The Antetokounmpo family’s journey from Nigeria to Greece and eventually to the United States is a testament to their resilience, unity, and unwavering support for one another. They are not just a family of basketball stars; they are a symbol of determination and the power of familial bonds.