“I was the best (salesman). I was really good at it… I was persistent in life,” Greek basketball superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo has told nationwide U.S. show 60 Minutes.
The ‘Greek Freak’ spoke about his life in the Greek capital before he joined the world of NBA. He said it was persistence that helped him survive in Athens as a teenager and which led him to become one of the world’s top-ranking basketball players.
Antetokounmpo spoke about his humble beginnings in a poor neighborhood of Athens when as a teenager he was forced to peddle CDs, DVDs, sunglasses and other counterfeit goods in order to survive.
Yet, he recollected those times with nostalgia. “There was happiness because we were together as a family,” he said describing his life with his three siblings and his parents in a small, one-bedroom apartment in Sepolia.
Giannis’ father gave him and his siblings Greek first names so they could assimilate into Greek culture. He urged Giannis and his older brother Thanasis to make a career in basketball.
Alex Saratsis, a Chicago agent born in Greece, discovered Giannis watching him play in a second-division Athens team.
He invited every NBA team to come to Athens and watch this diamond in the rough. In June 2013, Antetokounmpo attended the NBA draft and heard his name called as the 15th pick of the first round.
Today, aged 23, Giannis mesmerizes the crowds as the Milwaukee Bucks MVP. Since the beginning of the season he broke one record after the other. He is already a two-time All-Star, runs the full court in six steps and, as he told CBS interviewer Steve Kroft, he can jump to the basket from the foul line.
“The unpronounceable has become the unstoppable,” Kroft said.
The ‘Greek Freak’ joined the Milwaukee Bucks five years ago. At the time, the team was playing to a half-empty arena. In the past two years Giannis alone brought the Bucks name to the forefront. By making headlines for himself, he put Milwaukee in the headlines as well.
“On most nights now the Bradley Center is hopping. Giannis’s presence has put the Bucks and Milwaukee back in the national conversation. The breweries that made it famous during the last century are mostly gone, now it’s Antetokounmpo,” Kroft reported.
“You think you’re gonna keep getting better?” the interviewer asked him.
“Oh yeah. Yeah. I have to. There’s not a choice… I’m really scared of failing. So I gotta get better,” Antetokounmpo said.