“I have always been a huge fan of Gianni,” says ‘Rise’ director Akin Omotoso

Directed by Akin Omotoso, and filmed a year ago in Greece, “Rise” is based on the real-life story of the family that produced the first trio of Nigerian brothers who became NBA champions. The film stars Dayo Okeniyi, Yetide Badaki, Manish Dayal and Taylor Nichols. After emigrating from Nigeria to Greece, Charles and Vera Antetokounmpo (Dayo Okeniyi and Yetide Badaki) struggled to survive and provide for their five children, while living under the daily threat of deportation.

L-R) Giannis Antetokounmpo, Mariah Riddlesprigger, and family
L-R) Giannis Antetokounmpo, McColm Cephas Jr., Alex Antetokounmpo, Jahleel Kamara, Kostas Antetokounmpo, Aaron Kingsley Adetola, Thanasis Antetokounmpo and Chinua Baraka Payne

With their oldest son still in Nigeria with relatives, the couple were desperate to obtain Greek citizenship, but found themselves undermined by a system that blocked them at every turn. When they weren’t selling items to tourists on the streets of Athens with the rest of the family, the brothers– Giannis (Uche Agada) and Thanasis (Ral Agada) –would play basketball with a local youth team and discovered their talent on the basketball court later becoming world class athletes, along with brother, Kostas (Jaden Osimuwa).

L-R) Yetide Badaki, Jahleel Kamara, Elijah Sholanke, Aaron Kingsley Adetola and Dayo Okeniyi
Ral Agada (L) and Uche Agada (R)

Giannis entered the NBA Draft in 2013 and last season, Giannis and Thanasis helped bring the Milwaukee Bucks their first championship ring in 50 years, while Kostas played for the previous season champs, the Los Angeles Lakers. “I have always been a huge fan of Giannis from the moment he was drafted and from the moment I heard his story,” shares filmmaker Akin Omotoso. “This story is not just about basketball, it’s about life and learning about our hero’s origin. No matter the adversity, staying together you can overcome it and that is inspiring.”

Rise premieres in Los Angeles

The true Story of the Antetokounmpo family’s journey will air on Disney+ Friday June 24.

By Samantha Ofole-Prince/ Photos by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

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