Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the most popular athletes in the world. The two-time NBA MVP is not only a great basketball player, he’s also a genuinely good guy whose postgame press conferences have become appointment television.
In case you’re not a basketball fan, Giannis and his brother, Thanasis, play for the Milwaukee Bucks, while younger brother Kostas won a championship with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020. For three brothers born in Greece to Nigerian parents to all make it to the NBA is a truly amazing story. Hollywood agreed, and now the Antetokounmpo family’s inspirational life has been made into the movie Rise, set to debut on Disney+ Friday, June 24.
According to the Boston Herald, Giannis wanted to make sure that his parents were an important part of the film and that it didn’t just focus on him and his brothers.
“Disney approached us in 2018 with the opportunity to share our story with the world,” Giannis said during a virtual press conference. “I knew eventually our story would be told one day. It’s so amazing, where we started and where we are now. But in telling it, they never mention our parents. So our family sat down and told how we are here today, which is about my parents.”
The film begins with the boys’ parents Vera (played by Yetide Badaki) and Charles (played by Dayo Okeniyi) moving from Nigeria to Greece, following them as they make a life for their family and struggle with a complicated immigration system.
For the 2021 NBA Finals MVP, it was a chance to see a part of his parents’ story from before he was born. As a father himself, he can understand everything they went through with a new perspective.
“Seeing your story on the screen is a whole different case,” Giannis said. “When the movie starts, my mom and dad were in Turkey—and just seeing the fear in their eyes. Before we were even born. I’m 27 now with two kids and they were my age, in their 20s. Seeing their journey when it was just the two of them was tough for me.”
You don’t need to be a basketball fan to enjoy Rise. This is a film about a family overcoming the odds to make the impossible happen. If you need something not animated or musical for family movie night, this could be a fun, interesting choice.
Rise premieres Friday, June 24 on Disney+.