Happy 26th Birthday to the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo

Happy 26th Birthday to the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis Antetokounmpo is an unstoppable force who’s only at the beginning of his journey.

From an unknown prospect to one of the best players in the league—Giannis’s relentless work ethic and unmatched passion make him a transformative athlete. He inspires the next generation of basketball players around the globe to be the best versions of themselves.

The superstar basketball player also known as the “Greek Freak”, was born December 6, 1994 in Athens, Greece.

He grew up in the Athens neighbourhood of Sepolia, and while his parents struggled to find work Antetokounmpo and his older brother, Thanasis helped out by hawking items such as watches, bags, and sunglasses.

In 2007, Antetokounmpo started playing basketball and by 2009 was playing competitively for the youth squad of Filathlitikos.

Happy 26th Birthday to the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis officially gained Greek citizenship on May 9, 2013.

Antetokounmpo’s father, Charles, was a former Nigerian football player, while his mother, Veronica, is a former high jumper. Charles died in September 2017, at the age of 54.

Veronica gave each of her five sons both Greek and Nigerian names, choosing the Nigerian Ougko for Giannis.

In 2016, Giannis and his brother Thanasis served their mandatory military service in Greece.

Happy 26th Birthday to the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis and his mother Veronica

Antetokounmpo represented Greece for the first time in July 2013 with the Greek under 20 national team at the 2013 FIBA Europe Under-20 Championship. He helped Greece to an 8–2 record and a fifth place overall finish while averaging 8.0 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 2.2 assists across the 10 games. He finished the tournament ranked second in defensive rebounds (7.0) and seventh in blocked shots.

On April 28, 2013, Antetokounmpo officially made himself eligible for the 2013 NBA draft. He fulfilled his draft projections as a first-round pick by being selected 15th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks.

Happy 26th Birthday to the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo
Left to Right: Kostas, Alex, Thanasis and Giannis

On July 30, 2013, he signed his rookie scale contract with the Bucks.

Antetokounmpo made his NBA debut on October 13, 2013, at the age of 18 years, 311 days, as one of the youngest NBA players ever. He averaged 6.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.8 steals, and 0.8 blocks in 77 appearances during his rookie season.

During the 2015–16 season, he became the Bucks’ primary playmaker.

In 2016–17, he led the Bucks in all five major statistical categories and became the first player in NBA history to finish a regular season in the top 20 in total points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks.

Happy 26th Birthday to the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo

On January 19, 2017, Antetokounmpo was named a starter on the Eastern Conference All-Star team for the 2017 NBA All-Star Game. At 22 years old, he became the youngest player in franchise history to start in an All-Star Game. He also became the first Greek NBA All-Star.

He was also named the recipient of the NBA Most Improved Player Award for the 2016–17 season, becoming the first player in Bucks history to be named Most Improved Player.

Happy 26th Birthday to the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo

Antetokounmpo has received attention for his playmaking skills. Despite not being the primary ball handler of the Bucks, he has largely orchestrated the team’s offense. During the 2019–20 season, Antetokounmpo was responsible (through assisting and personally scoring) for 57.8% of the points the Bucks scored while he was on the floor, one of the highest in the league.  He averaged nearly 6 assists per game during both the 2018–19 and 2019–20 seasons.

He is also recognised as an elite defensive player, capable of guarding all five positions but more often deployed in a “free safety” role that allows him to roam the paint and discourage attacks on the rim. With Antetokounmpo in this role, the Bucks have flourished defensively, becoming one of the league’s best defensive teams, leading the NBA in defensive rating in 2018-19 and 2019–20.

Happy 26th Birthday to the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis and Theodoros Papaloukas

The “Greek Freak” has received four All-Star selections, including being selected as an All-Star captain in 2019 and 2020, as he led the Eastern Conference in voting in these two years.

On September 18, 2020, Antetokunmpo won his second consecutive Most Valuable Player award. In doing so, he joined Hakeem Olajuwon and Michael Jordan as the only players to win MVP and NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards in the same season.

Happy 26th Birthday to the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis and Mariah with their son Liam

On February 10, 2020, Giannis’ partner Mariah Riddlesprigger gave birth to their son, Liam Charles.

“I will not stop playing until I get what I want to achieve,” says Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis Antetokounmpo distributes boxes of food in Sepolia to those needing support

Giannis Antetokounmpo never forgets about his hometown in suburban Athens.

This time the “Greek Freak” collected food and delivered it to the church of Agios Meletios in Sepolia, the neighbourhood where he grew up, in order to give to people needing support.

Milwaukee Bucks give Antetokounmpo pens as birthday present

The Milwaukee Bucks concluded their first team practice on Sunday by singing “Happy Birthday” to Antetokounmpo.

Teammates Khris Middleton and Pat Connaughton thought of the perfect gift for the 26-year-old Antetokounmpo as he mulls over his decision on whether to sign a supermax extension… pens.

Xronia Polla to Giannis who turns 26 today!