NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo biopic set to release on Disney+ in 2022

Titled ‘Rise’, the film will tell the Antetokounmpo family’s journey of struggling in Greece to becoming NBA champions.

Brandon Leong

Compulsive playlist maker.

Published: 21 October 2021, 12:50 PM

A biopic based on the success of the Antetokounmpo family, including National Basketball Association (NBA) 2021 Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) Giannis Antetokounmpo is set to premiere in 2022.  

Rise will tell the story of the resilient family’s vision and how it lifted them out of obscurity in Greece to launch the career of three NBA champions – two-time MVP Giannis and his brothers, Thanasis and Kostas.

Giannis and Thanasis guided the Milwaukee Bucks to their first NBA title in 50 years in 2021, while Kostas was part of the Los Angeles Lakers team that won in 2020.

The Greek-Nigerian basketballers’ parents, Charles and Vera Antetokounmpo, had struggled after moving to Greece from Nigeria. They faced the threat of deportation, and made a living by selling items to tourists on the streets of Athens.

The brothers would sneak away to play basketball with a local youth team. Latecomers to the sport, they discovered their abilities on the basketball court and worked tirelessly to become the athletes they are today. 

Giannis, drafted into the NBA in 2013 as a long-shot prospect, helped to change the life of his family and paved the way for his brothers to follow suit.

Nicknamed the “Greek Freak” for his athletic ability, Giannis struggled in his first couple of years in the NBA before blossoming into a four-time all-star. He also has multiple all-NBA accolades to his name, and was named NBA Finals MVP last season.

“I am thrilled and honored that Disney+ is bringing my family’s story to people all over the world. My hope is that it will inspire those in similar circumstances to keep the faith, stay true to their goals and not to give up on striving for a better life,” said Giannis, who is also credited as an executive producer on the film.

Uche Agada and Ral Agada – also real-life brothers – portray young Giannis and Thanasis, while  Jaden Osimuwa and Elijah Shomanke portray the other two Antetokounmpo brothers, Kostas and Alex. 

The film stars Dayo Okeniyi (Emperor, Shades of Blue) and Yetide Badaki (American Gods, This is Us) as their parents Charles and Vera, with Manish Dayal as Giannis’ tenacious agent Kevin and Taylor Nichols as John Hammond, general manager of the Milwaukee Bucks. Also in the cast are Maximiliano Hernandez, Eddie Cahill, Pilar Holland and McColm Kona Cephas Jr. 

Similar to Giannis’ entering the Draft was a pivotal moment for his family, Uche Agada’s being cast in Rise proved to be a seminal moment for his family. 

Uche was working at a fast-food drive-thru in New Jersey when he saw an Instagram post from Giannis about a casting call for an unknown actor to portray him in the film. Uche had to ask for time off from his job to do the audition and eventually won the role of Giannis. 

Rise is directed by Akin Omotoso, with Bernie Goldmann producing. Andreas Dimitriou and Michael Foutras are also co-producers. 


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