By Melissa Constantinou, Contributor
Many well-established athletes never thought they could have a wealthy future because of their socioeconomic backgrounds. The examples are numerous: Pele, LeBron James, Novak Djokovic, Christiano Ronaldo, and the list goes on. The sudden wealth experienced by a number of athletes has turned into a positive experience for their communities as well. These athletes have used their newfound wealth not only to support themselves and their families, but also have used part of this wealth to give back and help their communities.
A very distinguished and idolised example of such benevolence is Giannis Antetokounmpo, the NBA superstar and 2021 NBA finals MVP. Giannis is a 26-year-old man who was born and raised in Greece by his two immigrant, Nigerian parents. He knows all too well how poverty feels like and the importance of helping other people. His parents had to deal with a lot of difficulties when raising their five children family in a foreign country and this is something that Giannis never forgets.
Despite the fact that Giannis is now one of the top NBA players, he is more importantly an active ally to the community. Back in March 2020 Giannis announced through twitter that he would donate $100,000 to the staff working at Fiserv Forum, the downtown Milwaukee arena used by his team, the Milwaukee Bucks. Shortly after, the whole Bucks organization followed Giannis’ example and joined in on this noble cause to help all part-time Fiserv Forum workers. While the NBA was offseason due to COVID-19, Giannis returned back to Greece and with the help of his family, volunteers and a few other individuals he was able to donate hundreds of boxes containing food to those in need. Another act of benevolence by Giannis in the beginning of the pandemic was donating 20,000 masks to the town where his first basketball team was located.
Giannis did not only help in times of crisis but he is also known for his charitable action, way before the pandemic hit. In 2019, Giannis and the rest of his teammates put on their aprons and got to work by helping serve dinner for an event called Hunger Dinner or else the Coach Bud dinner. The purpose of this dinner was to raise enough money for Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin. They were able to raise enough money to supply 363,000 meals to those in need.
During 2019, it was announced that Giannis and his brothers would be launching a basketball academy with the support of Nike in their home country, Greece. The AntetokounBros academy, as it is called, is a community program based in Athens, which started in November 2019. The academy was created so that children from underprivileged backgrounds would have the opportunities that the Antetokounmpo brothers did not have while growing up. It is a program that aspires to help girls and boys aged 12-16 and potential coaches aged 18-25 perceive their sporting future, obtain life skills and become finer citizens. Their ultimate mission is to inspire those kids through education, give them access to sport and scholarships in order to give them career options and opportunities in the future.
Also, during Thanksgiving 2018, Giannis was spotted at local food banks donating money and food to Milwaukee’s less fortunate.
Through these charitable acts, more and more people grow to love and idolise Giannis. Through his actions, he shows people not just his competitive side, but his sensitive and caring side as well. He helps influence others to do better and through his actions he shows how grateful he is to the community that helped him grow and be where he is today.
Giannis is a great example of an athlete who does not forget his humble origins and the hurdles that come with being poor. He demonstrates a deep commitment to helping people in need and he honors his community and he honors the place where he grew up by helping it become a better place for its people.
For more information on how athletes can give back to their communities you may contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.