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How Giannis Antetokounmpo & His Family’s Migration Story Touches Many Across The Globe

2021 NBA Finals - Game Six
Jonathan Daniel
Getty Images
Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks celebrates winning the Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP Award after defeating the Phoenix Suns in Game Six to win the 2021 NBA Finals at Fiserv Forum on July 20, 2021 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Identity is complex. Giannis Antetokounmpo and his family’s migration story from Nigeria to Greece, then to the United States resonates with many across the world, especially with immigrants and the multitude of identities they carry across borders.

After the legendary Game 6, Antetokounmpo said this at the press conference: "Eight and half years ago, before I came to the league, I didn't know where my next meal would come from. My mom was selling stuff on the street, and now I'm sitting at the top with the top."

Giannis Antetokounmpo Full Postgame Press Conference - Game 6 - Suns vs Bucks | 2021 NBA Finals

Ermitte Saint Jacques can relate to Antetokounmpo's story. Jacques is an assistant professor in the department of African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and identifies as Haitian American.

When looking at the contemporary history of migration from West Africa to southern Europe, Jacques points to the impact of Antetokounmpo's prominence.

She says, "... When you think about Greece, you don't think about Africans, but you have Africans who are Greek citizens. You have second generation children, right, the children who were born and raised just like Giannis, who speak fluent Greek, right, who can flow between their, you know, Europa or Ebo culture to the Greek culture."

She understands how challenging it can be navigating multiple identifies. "We, in our own lives individually, just move through these different cultural spaces, and it's part of who we are," Jacques reflects.

Mallory Cheng joined WUWM as a producer for Lake Effect in 2021.
Kobe Brown is WUWM's Eric Von fellow.
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