Antetokounmpo's father, Charles, was a Nigerian football player, while his mother, Veronica, is a former high jumper. Charles died in September 2017, at age 54. Veronica gave each of her five sons both Greek and Nigerian names, choosing the Nigerian Ugo (/ˈuːɡoʊ/ OO-goh) for Giannis. His parents are from different Nigerian ethnic groups—Charles was Yoruba, while Veronica is Igbo. According to basketball great Hakeem Olajuwon, also Yoruba, the original family name of Adetokunbo translates to "the crown has returned from overseas". Giannis wears the number 34 in honor of his parents, who were born in 1963 and 1964.
On September 19, 2016, Antetokounmpo agreed to a four-year, $100 million contract extension with the Bucks. Antetokounmpo's fourth year with the Bucks would be his breakout season, as he further increased his statistical output and ascended to stardom. On December 23, he had a career-high 39 points, eight rebounds and six assists in a 123–96 win over the Washington Wizards. A couple weeks later, Antetokounmpo recorded 27 points and 13 rebounds and made his first game-winning buzzer beater, a 15-foot turnaround jumper which gave the Bucks a 105–104 victory over the New York Knicks. With 25 points against the Knicks on January 6, Antetokounmpo had at least 20 points in his 14th consecutive game, matching the longest streak by a Bucks player since Michael Redd in 2006. On January 19, Antetokounmpo was named a starter on the Eastern Conference All-Star team for the 2017 NBA All-Star Game. At 22 years and 74 days 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. In the game, he led the East with 30 points in a 192–182 loss to the West. On April 3, 2017, he was named Eastern Conference Player of the Month for games played in March. The award was the first of Antetokounmpo's career and the first for a Buck since Michael Redd won the award in January 2004. Antetokounmpo helped the Bucks finish an Eastern Conference-best 14–4 in March, the franchise's first calendar month with at least 14 victories since going 16–2 in February 1971. Antetokounmpo led the Bucks in every one of the five major statistical categories (points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks) in the 2016–17 regular season, becoming only the fifth NBA player to do so after Dave Cowens, Scottie Pippen, Kevin Garnett and LeBron James. He also became the first player in NBA history to finish in the top 20 in the league in each of the five major categories in a regular season. As a result of his efforts, Antetokounmpo was named to the All-NBA Second Team, earning his first All-NBA honor. 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.
Giannis Adetokunbo was born in Athens, Greece, on December 6, 1994, the son of immigrants from Nigeria. Three years earlier, his parents had moved from Lagos, leaving their firstborn son, Francis, under the care of his grandparents. Adetokunbo grew up in the Athens neighborhood of Sepolia. His parents, as immigrants, could not easily find work, so Giannis and his older brother, Thanasis, helped by hawking watches, handbags and sunglasses in the streets. In 2007, Adetokunbo started playing basketball.
Giannis Sina Ugo Antetokounmpo (/ˈjɑːnɪs ˌɑːntɛtəˈkuːmpoʊ/ YAH-niss AHN-tet-ə-KOOM-poh; Greek: Γιάννης Σίνα-Ούγκο Αντετοκούνμπο, IPA: [ˈʝanis a(n)detoˈku(m)bo]; born December 6, 1994) is a Greek professional basketball player for the Milwaukee Bucks of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Antetokounmpo's nationality, in addition to his size, speed and ball-handling skills have earned him the nickname "Greek Freak".
Antetokounmpo returned in time for the finals against the resurgent Phoenix Suns. In his Finals debut, he recorded 20 points and 17 rebounds in a 118–108 loss. He then registered back-to-back games with at least 40 points and 10 rebounds in a Game 2 loss and a Game 3 victory, joining Shaquille O'Neal in 2000 as the only players to reach those numbers in consecutive Finals games. He also joined Jordan, O'Neal and James as the only players to put up at least 40 points in back-to-back Finals games in the previous 50 years. The Bucks continued their comeback after having lost the first two games of the series, prevailing in the next four contests. In Game 6, Antetokounmpo recorded 50 points, 14 rebounds and 5 blocks as the Bucks clinched their first championship in 50 years. He posted series averages of 35.2 points, 13.2 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.8 blocks, and was subsequently named NBA Finals MVP by unanimous vote. At 26 years, 226 days old, he is the youngest since Kawhi Leonard in 2014 to be named Finals MVP.
Antetokounmpo began playing basketball for the youth teams of Filathlitikos in Athens. In 2011, he began playing for the club's senior team before entering the 2013 NBA draft, where he was selected 15th overall by the Bucks. 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 all five statistics of total points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. He received the Most Improved Player award in 2017. Antetokounmpo has received five 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.
In 2011, Antetokounmpo played with the senior men's team of Filathlitikos in the semi-pro Greek B Basket League (Third Division) during the 2011–12 season.
Antetokounmpo has two older brothers, Francis (Greek name Andreas) and Thanasis, as well as two younger brothers, Kostas and Alex. Antetokounmpo is a Christian and was raised in the Greek Orthodox Church. He was baptized in the Greek Orthodox Church along with his brother Alex on October 28, 2012.
In December 2012, a few days after turning 18, Antetokounmpo signed a four-year deal with Spanish club CAI Zaragoza, reportedly including NBA buyouts after each season. A number of other major European clubs had been interested in adding him, including Barcelona and Efes.
After gaining Greek citizenship in 2013, his official surname became Αντετοκούνμπο, the Greek transcription of Adetokunbo, which was then transliterated letter-for-letter and officially spelled on his Greek passport as Antetokounmpo. Giannis is the colloquial for the Gr. Ioannis (John). Because many could not pronounce his surname, he quickly became known as the "Greek Freak". Antetokounmpo also holds Nigerian citizenship, having received his Nigerian passport in 2015.
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. On July 30, 2013, he signed his rookie scale contract with the Bucks.
Although Adetokunbo and three of his four brothers were born in Greece, they did not automatically receive Greek citizenship as Greek nationality law follows jus sanguinis. For the first 18 years of his life, Adetokunbo could not travel outside the country and was effectively stateless, having no papers from Greece or Nigeria. He was eventually issued Greek citizenship on May 9, 2013, less than two months before the 2013 NBA Draft.
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 (1.4). In 2014, Antetokounmpo played for the senior men's Greek national basketball team for the first time, helping Greece finish ninth overall in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup with a 5–1 record. He averaged 6.3 points and 4.3 rebounds across the six games, while shooting 45.8% from the field.
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. He scored in double figures 23 times and grabbed at least 10 rebounds twice, with both efforts resulting in double-doubles. He finished the season with 61 total blocks, which led all NBA rookies and was the seventh-most by a Bucks rookie in franchise history. He was selected to participate in the Rising Stars Challenge at NBA All-Star Weekend in New Orleans, where he tallied nine points, two rebounds and two assists in 17 minutes. At the season's end, he was named to the 2013–14 NBA All-Rookie second team.
Antetokounmpo obtained Nigerian citizenship in 2015, as such Antetokounmpo possesses multiple citizenship (being both a Greek national and a Nigerian national).
Antetekounmpo's second season with the Bucks saw both individual and team development. On February 6, 2015, he recorded a then career-high 27 points and 15 rebounds in a loss to the Houston Rockets. Three days later, he was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played February 2–8, earning Player of the Week honors for the first time in his career. He later competed in the 2015 NBA Slam Dunk Contest at NBA All-Star Weekend in New York. On March 9, he scored a then career-high 29 points on 11-of-16 shooting in a loss to the New Orleans Pelicans.
In the 2015–16 season, Antetokounmpo developed further individually, upping his scoring average to almost 17 points per game. On November 19, he scored a then career-high 33 points in a loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. On December 12, he recorded a near triple-double with 11 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists, helping the Bucks snap the Golden State Warriors' 24 game unbeaten start to the season with a 108–95 win. On February 22, 2016, Antetokounmpo recorded his first career triple-double with 27 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in a 108–101 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. At 21 years old, he became the youngest Buck to record a triple-double.
Following their son and brother, the entire Antetokounmpo family, except for Francis and Thanasis, moved from Athens to Milwaukee in early 2014. In July 2016, Giannis and Thanasis began their mandatory military service in Greece. The two brothers served a reduced three-month military service, as prescribed for Greek citizens who are permanent overseas residents.
On April 15, 2017, Antetokounmpo scored a playoff career-high 28 points in a 97–83 win over the third seed Toronto Raptors in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series. In Game 5 of the series on April 24, Antetokounmpo set a new playoff career-high with 30 points, but could not lead the Bucks to a win as they lost 118–93 to go down 3–2 in the series. The Bucks went on to lose Game 6 three days later despite a 34-point effort from Antetokounmpo, ending their season.
Antetokounmpo is also recognized 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. He is also a proficient shot-blocker and has developed a reputation for blocking opponents in transition (the chase-down block). With Antetokounmpo in this role, the Bucks have flourished into one of the league's best defensive teams, leading the NBA in defensive rating in 2018-19 and 2019–20. For his defensive efforts, Antetokounmpo won the 2020 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, and he has become a perennial NBA All-Defensive honoree.
Antetokounmpo won back-to-back NBA Most Valuable Player Awards in 2019 and 2020, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James as the only players in NBA history to win two MVPs before turning 26. Along with his MVP award, he was also named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2020, becoming only the third player after Michael Jordan (1988) and Hakeem Olajuwon (1994) to win both awards in the same season. In 2021, Antetokounmpo helped lead the Bucks to their first NBA championship since 1971 and was named Finals MVP.
However, Antetokounmpo has been criticised for his lack of a reliable jump shot, having shot above 31% from three-point range just once in his career. Antetokounmpo's jumper has been exploited by other teams. Most famously, the Toronto Raptors built a 'wall' of lengthy, adept defenders to neutralise Antetokounmpo's paint dominance in their 2019 Conference Finals victory. As a result, Antetokounmpo increased his jump-shooting output, averaging a career-high 4.4 three-point goals attempted and 1.4 made per game in 2019–20.
Antetokounmpo began the 2019–20 season with a triple-double, recording 30 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists in a 117–111 season-opening win over the Houston Rockets on October 24, 2019. On November 25, Antetokounmpo scored a season-high 50 points, along with 14 rebounds, in a 122–118 win over the Utah Jazz. After a December 14 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, Antetokounmpo had lead the Bucks to their 18th straight victory, 2 shy of the franchise record. The winning streak ended on December 16 with a close loss to the Dallas Mavericks, in spite of Antetokounmpo recording an efficient 48 points and 14 rebounds. On December 19, Antetokounmpo made a career-high five three-pointers to lead Milwaukee over the Western top seed, the Los Angeles Lakers, and helped the Bucks claim the NBA's best record at 25–4. On January 23, 2020, Antetokounmpo was named an All-Star Game captain, alongside James, for the second consecutive year.
On February 10, 2020, his girlfriend Mariah Riddlesprigger gave birth to their son, Liam Charles. As of May 2021, she is pregnant with their second child. On March 13, 2020, Antetokounmpo and his family pledged to give $100,000 to the staff of the Fiserv Forum who were unable to work during the suspension of the 2019–20 NBA season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Antetokounmpo and his family also donated 20,000 masks to people in Athens, Greece and Zografou, Greece in 2020.
On September 18, 2020, Antetokounmpo 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,
On December 15, 2020, Antetokounmpo re-signed with the Bucks, coming to terms on a 5-year, $228 million extension, the largest in league history. At the 2021 All-Star Game, he played on the team captained by James and scored 35 points on a perfect 16-of-16 shooting from the field to lead the team to a 170–150 win and became the first non-American to win the All-Star MVP.
Thanasis made his NBA debut with the New York Knicks after being drafted by the organization with the 51st overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft. He is now with the Milwaukee Bucks. Antetokounmpo's younger brother, Kostas, played college basketball for Dayton before being selected with the last pick in the 2018 NBA draft. He went on to win the 2020 NBA Championship with the Los Angeles Lakers. In 2021, Kostas signed with ASVEL Basket, part of the French Betclic Élite and the Euroleague. Their youngest brother, Alex, played high school basketball in the US, and has since signed with UCAM Murcia of the Liga ACB.
The Bucks finished the 2020–21 season with a 46–26 record, clinching the third seed in the Eastern Conference. In the first round of the playoffs, they faced a rematch against the Miami Heat. In a stark reversal of their upset loss the prior year, Antetokounmpo led the Bucks to a four game sweep, closing out the series with his first playoff triple-double in Game 4. Antetokounmpo also led the Bucks to a seven game series win over the Brooklyn Nets in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, where Antetokounmpo averaged 31.9 points, 12.9 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game. On June 29, 2021, Antetokounmpo suffered an injury to his left knee during the third quarter of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Atlanta Hawks after slamming into Clint Capela and landing awkwardly, resulting in a gruesome hyperextension. Antetokounmpo would not return to the game, and the Bucks lost 110–88. MRI results would later show that he did not suffer any ligament tears. Antetokounmpo was ruled out for both Games 5 and 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals as a result of the knee injury. The series returned to Milwaukee at a 2–2 deadlock, yet the Bucks ended up winning both Games 5 and 6 in his absence, advancing to the NBA Finals for the first time in 47 years.
Standing 6 feet 11 inches (2.11 m) tall and weighing 242 pounds (110 kg), Antetokounmpo is officially listed as a forward and sometimes described as a point forward, but has been deployed across all five positions. Highly athletic and versatile, Antetokounmpo is often recognized as one of the best all-around players in the NBA, and many analysts have declared him "positionless" and as embodying the future of the league. As of July 2021, Antetokounmpo's regular season career averages are 20.9 points, 9.1 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.3 blocks per game.
On August 20, 2021, Antetokounmpo bought into a minority ownership with the Milwaukee Brewers from the Major League Baseball.