NewsLocal News


'He's my role model': Giannis Antetokounmpo's path to success inspires Green Bay area youth

Posted at 6:23 AM, Jul 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-22 07:36:17-04

GREEN BAY, Wis. (NBC 26) -- From selling sunglasses on the streets of Athens, Greece, to winning an NBA title, the Greek freak is changing lives in Northeast Wisconsin.


"I started playing basketball just to help my family," Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo said in a Tuesday press conference. "You know, try to get them out of the struggle. The challenges we were facing when we were kids. I never thought I would be 26 years old with my team playing in the NBA Finals."

NE WIsconsin Bucks fan reacts to historic win

Antetokounmpo lead Milwaukee to its second NBA championship earlier this week. He didn't start playing basketball until he was 13 years old. And it's the Bucks star's work ethic that inspires Green Bay natives like David Sandoval.

"He's my role model that I want to be just like him when I get older," Sandoval said. "Just his attitude and all that."

In a recent interview, Antetokounmpo said he struggled to find food growing up.

Screen Shot 2021-07-22 at 6.33.05 AM.png
It's the Bucks star's work ethic that inspires Green Bay natives like David Sandoval.

"He inspires me in just the way how he grew up in Greece and was poor with his brothers and all that," Sandoval said. "And just to be an NBA champion, I think it's incredible. He's what got me into basketball."

Still, the forward was drafted by the Bucks in the first round at just 18 years old.

"He'll keep motivating you to keep pushing," Green Bay resident Diondre Taylor said. "He seems like someone you'd want on your team just in life."

Screen Shot 2021-07-22 at 6.33.52 AM.png
Diondre Taylor, Green Bay

And just last year, the former league MVP signed one of the most lucrative contracts in NBA history.

"He's not stuck up," Taylor said. "If he sees you out and about, he'll say 'what's up?' to you."

Now, seven years after he made a promise never to leave Milwaukee until the team won a title, the Greek Freak proved he's a man of his word.

"I never thought, ever, I'd be 26 and I'd be sitting in this chair with this right here and this right here," Antetokounmpo said with two trophies in his possession. "Man... we've come a long way."