By Joe Arruda
The six-foot seven shooting guard wakes up under the same roof as the reigning Most Valuable Player of the NBA.
After his morning lift, he will enjoy breakfast and make his way to Dominican High School.
Following the school day, he’ll go to the gym early for practices or games.
Afterwards, he’ll often race over to Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee to get to his brother’s game as fast as possible. And then, depending on how his brother did, they will either return to the gym or just call it a day.
That is the life of the Alex Antetokounmpo.
A last name that every basketball fan will recognize, but few are able to pronounce.
Seven years ago, David Stern gave it a shot at the Barclays Center in New York City when he announced that Giannis had been drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks with the fifteenth overall pick.
The other Antetokounmpos watched the spectacle on television from their home in Athens, Greece.
“It was just eye-opening for me because like where we’re from, we’d never really seen anybody make it out,” Alex said. “Seeing my brother get drafted was kind of like eye-opening and inspiring to me and a lot of the other kids back where we’re from.”
The NBA was something that kids in Greece only dreamed of, a lifestyle that is the polar opposite from what they were used to. Giannis made his mark in a hurry, getting named MVP at age 24.
“It’s kind of unbelievable. Me and my brothers joke about this all the time, like ‘What if all this is a dream and we all wake up and we’re back in Greece?’ He has done the unheard of. Stuff kids dream about, he literally went out there and did exactly that,” Alex said.
“He took our family from the absolute bottom to the top.”
Thanasis followed Giannis when the 51st overall pick was announced in 2014, and Kostas maintained the trend in 2018 as the 60th pick. Just like that, seven years after Giannis broke ground, the Antetokounmpo family is three strong in the NBA with Alex as the youngest still in high school looking to forge his path.
— Joe Arruda (@joearruda9) January 16, 2020
Humbled through and through, the family is driving on a road to greatness paved by their late father, Charles.
“It’s all about his legacy. It plays a role when I step on the court, but it’s also more than basketball,” Alex said. “It’s a way of living, a way of discipline that our father taught us. And we live through him pretty much.”
“He just put us on the right path before he left to go to heaven and then just kept us on the right path ever since,” he added.
Having the name Antetokounmpo, it is almost impossible for Alex, a senior in high school, to avoid the attention, criticism and expectations that have attached themselves to it. But, while his life has flipped like a coin, he remains grounded with his own drive.
He knows what the expectations are, and he has the competitiveness to exceed them without giving in.
“Seeing that Giannis and all three of my brothers all got drafted, it just keeps pushing me to reach all of my goals because if they could do it, I believe I can do it as well,” he said.
“Me, personally, I don’t really believe in pressure. But, I would say there are expectations and stuff like that that other people have of me. At the end of the day I just want to fill up to my potential and be the best I can be and go from there.”
Alex analyzes his brothers’ games. He watches just about every contest, whether it be live and in person or on TV. He says he doesn’t compare his brothers to himself because they are different players, but instead watches for what areas of their game are lacking, and assesses what he could do to improve those areas.
A lot of his work comes with his brother, whose resumé over-qualifies him to be a teacher.
The doors of the gym close and everything other than the leather ball and the hardwood is abandoned outside.
The Antetokounmpo brothers don’t mess around.
It is a family thing. They help each other, they push each other, and they motivate each other. All through their father.
Throughout all of the success that Giannis has found in basketball, he has brought his little brother along for the ride. From being a teammate, to a coach, to a father figure, Alex credits Giannis for much of what he is about on the court and off of it.
A six-foot seven young man walking through the halls of a high school is guaranteed to be recognized by just about any bystander. Tacking on to that his last name and the stardom associated with it, his first name can almost get lost in translation.
But Alex is okay with that.
“I mean, a lot of people think, ‘Oh, I wouldn’t want his attention to define me,’ or, ‘I wouldn’t want to be known as Giannis’ brother,’ stuff like that but, I was glad to be known as Giannis’ brother way before he made it to the NBA,” he said.
“My brothers have been my idols since before they even started playing basketball. Those are my ride or dies, and I’ve been riding with them ever since, nothing’s going to change that.”
Alex watches closely as his brothers establish their legacy in the NBA, while hoping soon to carve his own right alongside them.
Featured Image courtesy of USA Today High School Sports