When Giannis Antetokoumpo’s parents emigrated from Nigeria to Greece in search of a better life for their sons, basketball wasn’t part of the plan. Well, at least not for Giannis. Thanasis, the eldest brother and the focus of Giannis’s childhood adoration, was a prep star brimming with professional potential. Giannis, though, had aspirations to play soccer like his father, who had done so to some acclaim back home in Nigeria.
But Giannis loved his older brother and spent as much time with him as possible. When Thanasis was 17 years old, he signed a professional contract with Maroussi to play in the elite division of the Greek Basketball League. That contract came with the perks of a pro ball lifestyle, which meant an assortment of free sneakers. Thanasis brought those pairs home to show off to his brothers, namely Giannis, who completely lost it when he saw his brothers’ new Nike Kobe 4s.
"Since I was little, I have been wearing KOBE shoes," Giannis says in an interview with Nike. "The fit, feel and function has always been comfortable for me."
The lanky kid who once needed a firm push from his peers to get on the basketball court was pulled closer to the sport. Not just out of brotherly love, but because he was enamored by sneakers.