If you’re craving another inspiring basketball movie after watching Hustle on Netflix, then Disney+ has you covered with Rise, a new sports drama based on the true story of NBA player Giannis Antetokounmpo and his brothers.
The film, which began streaming on Disney+ today, was directed by Nigerian filmmaker Akin Omotoso and written by Arash Amel. Actor Uche Agada stars as a young version of NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo, who, along with his five brothers, moved from Nigeria to Greece as a boy, and helped his family make ends meet by selling souvenirs to tourists in Athens. It’s stressful, with the constant threat of deportation hanging over their heads, and the brothers blow off steam by playing basketball on public courts. Though they have no formal training, they have plenty of natural talent, and an NBA talent scout takes notice.
Whether or not you’re a basketball fan, it’s an incredible, inspirational true story about making your dreams come true. Who could resist that? Read on to find out more about the Rise true story.
Is Rise based on a true story?
Yes. Rise is based on the true story of the Antetokounmpo brothers—Giannis Antetokounmpo, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, and Kostas Antetokounmpo— three Nigerian-Greek brothers who emigrated from Nigeria to Greece, and rose to fame in the NBA.
Who are the Antetokounmpo brothers from Rise?
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, and Kostas Antetokounmpo are all three Nigerian-Greek brothers who, after their family moved to Greece from Nigera, managed to capture the attention of an NBA talent scout and become professional basketball players in the NBA. But most well-known of the brothers is 27-year-old Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is currently a power forward for the Milwaukee Bucks, and is a bonafide NBA superstar. Giannis has been with the Bucks since his first NBA draft in 2013, where he rose from a rookie to being named the league’s Most Valuable Player two years in a row, in 2019 and 2020. Only two other NBA players have achieved that before the age of 26, and their names are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James. And the year after that? Giannis led the Bucks to their first NBA championship since 1971. So, yeah, he’s a pretty good ball player.
Perhaps less well-known are Giannis Antetokounmpo’s brothers, who also play for the NBA and whose story is also told in Rise. There is Athanasios “Thanasis” Antetokounmpo (played by actor Ral Agada), who currently plays alongside his younger brother Giannis on the Milwaukee Bucks. There is Kostantinos “Kostas” Antetokounmpo (played by actor Jaden Osimuwa), who currently plays on the French professional basketball team, LDLC ASVEL, and previously played for the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks. And there’s Alexandros “Alex” Antetokounmpo (played by actor Elijah Shomanke), who currently plays for the Raptors 905 of the NBA G League.
The real Giannis Antetokounmpo met early on with Rise producer Bernie Goldmann, when Goldmann came to the player with an idea for a movie about his family’s life. Giannis was convinced by Goldmann’s pitch—with the condition that he and his family would have input in developing the script. In fact, according to the Rise production notes, it was Giannis who insisted the story about his entire family, not just him, and that the movie would end with him getting drafted in 2013, rather than go on to tell the story of his NBA career.
“I am thrilled and honored that Disney+ is bringing my family’s story to people all over the world,” Giannis said in an interview for the press notes. “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.”
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