The touching story behind Giannis Antetokounmpo’s first shoe

With the Nike Zoom Greak Freak 1, this is not only a testament to the success of the Greek star player, but behind those shoes is a story of determination and growth.

In the densely populated suburb of Zografou, east of Athens, Greece, there exists a sports gym. Entering that gym, hidden behind a rich collection of plants is a set of stairs leading to the ground floor entrance along with the gym door of the basketball court. At this place, the magical journey of a skinny 12-year-old boy named Giannis Antetokounmpo officially began.

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Childhood photos of the three Giannis Antetokounmpo brothers.

For Filathlitikos Basketball Club, that gym is all they have to equip their young players. Poor conditions and the sweltering heat of Greek summer afternoons still do not discourage Giannis Antetoukounmpo. He persevered in training, won an official position in the club’s youth team at the age of 14 and never stopped telling his older brother, Thanasis, about what was a distant dream at that time.


“You know, this practice room is just for now. One day, I will stand on the floor of an NBA team. I will definitely do it.”

At the age of 17, a few NBA scouts began to travel to Greece to watch him play. In 2013, his dream officially came true when Milwaukee Bucks called his name at No. 15, but perhaps Giannis himself did not expect that his dream would reach even further than that.

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Little Giannis Antetokounmpo in his early days still played amateur basketball.


Not only becoming an NBA player, Giannis also won the MVP title in the 2018-2019 season and became the first player outside the US to have his own thick line at the age of 24. The million-dollar contract with Nike brought brought him his first shoe model, the Nike Zome Greak Freak 1, which will be released in July of this year.

For Giannis, this shoe carries a lot of profound thoughts. “I want to bring my whole family to the world through this shoe model.” According to initial information, the midsole of each shoe will have the names of Veronica, his mother and his late father Charles. He bravely moved his family from Nigeria to Greece in search of a better life for his sons. The sole of each shoe heel will have four names of Giannis’ brothers, including: Francis, Thanasis, Kostas and Alex.

In addition, Giannis also gives a lot of inspiration to future generations: “Besides, I also want a shoe model that is not only beautiful in design, but can also inspire tomorrow’s children.” later. That if they practice harder, they can be more confident in their dreams.”

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Giannis Antetokounmpo’s shoe model conveys many messages to young people.

Indeed, for Giannis, these shoes are the realization of a crazy dream that he never imagined. Not only was the dream rekindled at the Filathlitikos club’s gym, but also the story of the shoes he wore on the football field that didn’t even belong to him.

Initially, Giannis’ dream was not basketball but football. It was his older brother Thanasis who rekindled his passion for orange football in his childhood. “I didn’t choose basketball, Thanasis chose it for me.” After signing a professional contract with Maroussi Club, Thanasis was given a few new pairs of shoes by the team and he gave his younger brother the shoes he had used.

For Antetokounmpo’s family in a foreign country, basketball shoes are a luxury compared to the small salary that Mr. Charles and his wife Veronica earn to support the family. “I really loved the Kobes that Thanasis had, I used to sneak them to the gym and of course he got mad at me. It was my dad who said ‘Why don’t you guys share your shoes? together? And from then on, Thanasis and I started to follow what he told us.”

Since then, brothers Thanasis and Giannis began sharing the same pair of shoes in every match for the Filathlitikos youth team. When Giannis played, Thanasis would wear the shoes and vice versa. That is also the reason why the two cousins ​​have never played together.

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The shoes were inspired by Giannis Antetokounmpo’s father, Charles.

Even later, when his older brother Thanasis began playing professionally and gave Giannis his old shoes, he still did not forget his habit of borrowing shoes from his teammates. Giannis’ teammates don’t feel too bothered about it. Giannis even had to wear shoes that were 2 sizes smaller and according to the sharing, that was really not comfortable at all.

In the early days of playing in the NBA, no other sports company offered to cooperate with Giannis, except Nike. At that time, he only had about 10 pairs of shoes in his closet, but they quickly increased exponentially since he and Nike went hand in hand each season. “I even have nearly 4,000 pairs of shoes, but only use about 15 pairs,” Giannis laughed when sharing with reporters.

One day in September 2017, a Nike representative came to Giannis and said something like “You will be our 22nd player to have your own shoe model”. Giannis couldn’t believe it, for him, it was a dream he never dared to think of: “It’s crazy, I’ve always admired Kobe, LeBron and Kevin Durant and now I have a shoe model of I’m just like them.”

Giannis rejected offers from Li-Ning and Adidas, companies that declared they were willing to give him a truckload of shoes to sign a contract and officially announced a partnership with Nike on his own shoe model. According to Nike’s shares with the press, Giannis wanted his first shoe to represent the most important thing in his life – “family”. Since then, the Nike Zoom Greak Freak 1 was officially born.

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Giannis Antetokounmpo wants everyone to remember his father when wearing this shoe.

When asked if Giannis wanted anything special to appear on the shoes, he answered briefly but emotionally “I am my Father’s legacy” as a tribute to his father Charles, who suddenly passed away at the age of 54 just 6 weeks before Giannis signed with Nike.

“I want people to remember my father. I want people to know that he left behind the greatest legacy of his life. The only thing he cared about was his children. His legacy lives on in me and the other brothers, we’re proud of that. Every shoe from now on, the phrase will always be there. It’s not going anywhere. I want him to look at the shoe and feel proud of it. heaven”.

Takis Zivas, coach of the Filathlitikos basketball team and also Giannis’ first teacher, shared with everyone when asked about the Greek superstar’s first shoe model: “We all feel like we are living together.” Giannis’s dream and career. He has inspired many children here. He gives them a love of basketball, an inspiration to compete, and a desire to succeed. wearing Giannis’ shoes.”

For Giannis, if his older brother Thanasis gave him the love of basketball, it is now his duty to pass that love on to future generations, including his younger brothers Kostas and Alex.

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From a skinny 16-year-old boy who had to share shoes, the “Greek demigod” has now become a superstar and is emulated by many young people.

The journey of a skinny 16-year-old boy with a pair of Kobe 4s borrowed from his brother to a superstar with his own shoe model is not simple. At the current Filathlitikos club’s gymnasium, there is a photo of Giannis performing a dunk in Greak Freak 1s shoes with the same text. “Fate makes you born at the bottom, but dreams will nurture you to the top.”

For Giannis himself, the shoes he wore during that time had great meaning and he understood that, for a child, having a pair of basketball shoes could completely help them raise their children. nurture your dreams.



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