The first thing you immediately realize when watching RISE is how unlikely a story it is.
It seems more like fiction than fact.
Everyone has heard a version of the story of Giannis Antetokounmpo, and how his parents moved from Nigeria to Greece for a better life and how they struggled before Giannis and his brothers discovered basketball, and they were able to all move to the United States for a better life.
What you don’t know is for over 20 years, Giannis’ family lived in fear of being arrested and deported because they were illegally in Greece.
Even though Giannis and three of his four brothers were born in Greece, they were never given citizenship. How his father and mother could never get consistent work because they never had legal papers in a country they had lived in for over two decades.
How his parents were forced to leave his oldest brother Francis in Nigeria, and they weren’t reunited for over 25 years.
Initially, Giannis’ other older brother Thanasis was the star basketball player in the family. Still, their immigration status made it tough for Thanasis and Giannis to move up the ranks.
The thing that most stuck with me was Giannis’ father, Charles, a very good Nigerian soccer player in his youth. He was just any and everything for his boys to grow up and have a good life. The work wasn’t glamorous, and it was hard labor, but that is why his boys, to this day, even though they all play some form of professional basketball, are still so humble.
He sadly passed away in 2017, but he lived to know he did his job as a parent, and his boys would not just take care of their mom but each other.
RISE isn’t really a basketball movie. It is a movie about family, love, and sacrifice.
It is a movie about a one-in-a-billion chance coming through for people who actually deserve it. It is about loyalty and always trying to do what is right.
It is also a film about some of the disgusting immigration laws that are had around the world. It is sad Greece only embraced the family after it became clear Giannis would make it to the NBA since they were as much greek as anyone else in the country from birth.
Disney’s “Rise,” debuting exclusively on Disney+ on June 24, is based on the triumphant real-life story about the remarkable family that produced the first trio of brothers to become NBA champions in the history of the league—Giannis and Thanasis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kostas Antetokounmpo.
Newcomers Uche Agada and Ral Agada—also real-life brothers—portray young Giannis and Thanasis, with Jaden Osimuwa and Elijah Sholanke as their other two brothers, Kostas and Alexandros (“Alex”), respectively. Dayo Okeniyi (“Emperor,” “Shades of Blue”) and Yetide Badaki (“American Gods,” “This Is Us”) play their parents, Charles and Veronica (“Vera”), with Manish Dayal as Giannis’ tenacious agent, Kevin Stefanides, and Taylor Nichols as John Hammond, general manager of the Milwaukee Bucks.
“Rise” is directed by Akin Omotoso (“Vaya”) and written by Arash Amel (“A Private War”), with Bernie Goldmann (“300”) producing and Giannis Antetokounmpo and Douglas S. Jones as executive producers. Co-producers are Andreas Dimitriou and Michael Foutras.
8 out 10 BSO Stars…