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Antetokounmpo says he feared of deportation as migrant child in Athens

Giannis Antetokounmpo has revealed that just six years ago he was scared of leaving the house as he feared he might be deported. Born to Nigerian parents in Athens, Greece, the Milwaukee Bucks star did not hold a passport or any form of IDs until he became a Greek when he turned 18.

“Six years ago I was afraid to leave the house in case they deported me,” he told Spanish newspaper El Pais. “Fortunately, things are changing for the better. Today, children have hope.”

The same fear stalked his four brothers, and Antetokounmpo explained that growing up they struggled to understand why they were treated differently from their friends.

“When we were children, our friends got their IDs and passports,” said Antetokounmpo. “We did not understand what was happening. We ask our parents ‘Why do not we have an ID or a passport? Why can not we travel with our friends?’ They could not explain it to us. They never had the opportunity to vote or express their opinion. It’s incredible.”

Despite facing discrimination, Antetokounmpo’s parents taught their kids to remain hopeful and the reigning NBA MVP credited his friends for sheltering them from racism as much as possible.

“I will not deny that there is a lot of racism in Greece. But there were also around us all those people who helped us,” he explained. “In my school there were four blacks, me and my brothers. We were different, but we had not realized. We had many white friends. They helped us not to see racism and not feel attacked. It is what everyone should do to eradicate racism.”

“It is a very hard situation, a tricky subject,” Antetokounmpo said. “It is difficult to deal with it, especially when you are illegal, you do not have papers or a passport and you are in the street with the risk of being deported.”

“There are people who want to talk about it and people who do not. I feel comfortable talking about it because I’ve been through that situation.”

The Greek Freak is playing his part and on Saturday he and his brother, Thanasis, unveiled plans to start a program for underprivileged children in Greece: the AntetokounBros Academy will make their basketball dreams come true.

 

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One comment

  1. Giannis is a class act for both the NBA and for Greece. He is loved by all of Greece.