We RISE as a family 💛 pic.twitter.com/NN65yFZ3ke— Giannis Antetokounmpo (@Giannis_An34) June 22, 2022
Rise is a movie about the journey of Giannis Antetokounmpo’s life. His parents immigrated from Nigeria to Greece. This is where he and his brothers were born and raised. Subsequently, we watch him rise up and become a first round pick in the NBA Draft. Despite his current success, his family was challenged by immigration officials and laws, poverty, and racism. Rise is a family film centered around hard work, faith, and hope.
-Antetokounmpo Brothers posing with the actors that played their younger selves.
At the beginning of Rise, we see his parents leaving Nigeria in 1990. Conversely, we see a dark moment, as the family leaves their first born son in Nigeria. Next, we see how Charles and Veronica Antetokounmpo snuck across the Turkey Greece border. The family begins to expand in Greece. Here Veronica gives birth to four sons: Thansis, Giannis, Kostas, and Alexandros. Then we get a look at how the family worked together to make ends meet. Their family’s resiliency and creativity is continuing theme throughout. It’s almost impossible not to fall in love with their family dynamic. However, throughout Rise there are reminders of their poverty. The family also needs to duck, run, and hide from immigration officers. Yet, the Antetokounmpo family finds happiness in their life, remaining optimistic in their future.
Giannis and older brother Thanasis get their first taste of “hoops” and their hooked. Not only is it a new passion, they see it as an opportunity to help their family. Rise continues as we see Giannis and Thanasis pour everything into the game of basketball. Their dedication and perseverance is inspirational. In spite of sharing one pair of basketball shoes. The Antetokounmpo brothers start improving their game. Thanasis becomes the star of their team. As Giannis continues to study and practice. Every time a family member faces a hardship, they come together and choose what is best for the family. Obviously, the brothers improve and start drawing attention of scouts. Just when things were looking up for the dynamic duo of brothers. Thansis injures his ankle in a game. Thanasis then encourages his brother, “Gianni. Go. This is your chance. Lead the team.”
Giannis does exactly as Thanasis instructs him to do. Giannis goes on to lead the team, becoming a stand out talent. Even so, the top agent in the area doesn’t want to work with Giannis due to his family’s immigrant status. Nonetheless, Giannis lands an agent. Giannis is the agents first client. Haris Eleftheriou, Giannis’s agent, promises to help anyway he can. Haris finds out teams aren’t willing to risk signing undocumented players. Luckily, there is a regional tryout where major teams and scouts from all over Europe will be in attendance. Charles realizes, there will be many eyes peering upon his undocumented family at the tryouts. Even with this risk, the family decides to go the tryouts to support Giannis.
Giannis crushes the tryout. Yet, he only receives one offer from a Spanish basketball club. All the Greek clubs still fear the lack of immigration papers. The Antetokounmpo’s request that Basket Zaragoza helps the entire family immigrate to Spain so they can stick together. Suddenly, they are visited by the top agent. This time the agent is singing a different tune. He offers them cash, Greek passports, and meetings with teams. But they need to drop Haris as their client. The Antetokounmpo’s deny the top agent’s offers. He responds by threatening to get get them deported. Just then, Haris returns with good news and bad news. Bad news, Basket Zaragoza will not help the whole family. Good news, Giannis is going to be entered in the NBA Draft!
A King Will Come From Across the Sea
At this time the family takes their biggest risk. Giannis and Thanasis will go with Haris to attend the draft. However, if Giannis doesn’t get drafted the family’s status is once again in the open. Upon their arrival in New York City, the brothers are blown away. They’re humbled by the luxury and comfort of their hotel room. Along with, the news they have a meeting with a rep from Nike. Before the meeting, we find out that most teams want Giannis to develop more. In addition to this, the teams willing to pick him, want him to return to Europe. They realize his best shot at getting drafted is between the 11th and 16th pick. Their plan is to meet with the teams and hope they fall in love with Giannis. Giannis starts feeling overwhelmed by the moment. How will he sell himself to Nike executives.
First and foremost, at the dinner meeting the executive asks a tough question. What makes him stand out over other players? Undoubtedly, Giannis responds with the absolute truth of his family’s journey. This was an incredibly heartfelt moment in the film. Giannis only knows how to be himself. He is honest, humble, and hardworking. The Nike Executives love him.
Before the draft they meet with Reps and Executives from numerous clubs. They have interest, but nothing concrete. The anxiety grows as they are left wondering. Finally, we reach draft night. Giannis and crew sit in the crowd at the draft. The other major prospects are all at their VIP tables. As the picks start coming off the board, Haris’ phone isn’t ringing. Instead of feeling defeated, Giannis and Thanasis start to pray. David Stearn comes out to the stage, “With the 15th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, the Milwaukee Bucks Select Giannis Antetokounmpo”.
This is a feel good movie from start to finish. As well as that, we see the constant adversity the Antetokounmpo family faced. Above all, they stuck together, kept faith, and made sacrifices. Differing from Hollywood blockbusters with complex plot or dark twists. Rise comes from the more traditional line of Disney movies. Moreover, it shows that not everyone is treated fairly or given equitable opportunities. Most importantly, we get lessons in family values, work ethic, and morality. I recommend this film to Bucks, Giannis, and basketball fans; as well as families.
Giannis’ MVP speech means so much more after watching #RISE.— Jake Weinbach (@JWeinbachNBA) June 26, 2022
It always gets me emotional, but seeing the film about his family’s sacrifice, perseverance, and inspiring journey just makes this speech beyond moving.
Congratulations to the Antetokounmpos. pic.twitter.com/ttcT2Rdi8I
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