The Improbable Rise of an NBA MVP
Discover the story of one of the most transcendent players in NBA history–from his early life living in poverty in Greece to his inspiring rise to super-stardom in America.As the face of the NBA's new world order, Giannis Antetokounmpo has overcome unfathomable obstacles to become a symbol of hope for people all over the world, the personification of the American Dream. But his backstory remains largely untold, and Fader unearths new information about the childhood that shaped "The Greek Freak"—from sleeping side by side with his brothers to selling trinkets on the side of the street with his family to the racism he experienced in Greece. Antetokounmpo grew up in an era when Golden Dawn, Greek's far-right, anti-immigrant party, patrolled his neighborhood, and his status as an illegal immigrant largely prevented him from playing for Greek's top clubs, making his rise to the NBA all the more improbable. Fader tells a deeply-human story of how an unknown, skinny, Black-Greek teen, who played in the country's lowest pro division and was seen as a draft gamble, transformed his body and his game into MVP material.
Antetokounmpo's story has been framed as a feel-good narrative in which the globe has embraced him, watching him grow up and lead the underdog Bucks to the best record in the NBA in 2020. Giannis reveals a more nuanced story: how hesitant Antetokounmpo was, and still is, to spend money; how lonely and isolated he felt, adjusting to America and the NBA early in his career; the way he changed after his father recently died of a heart attack; the complexity of grappling with his Black and Greek identities; how private he is, so hard on himself and his shortcomings, a drive that fuels him every day; and the deep-rooted responsibility he feels to be a nurturing role model for his younger brothers. Fader illustrates a more vulnerable star than people know, a person who has evolved triumphantly into all of his roles: as father, brother, son, teammate, and global icon. Giannis gives readers a front-row seat as Antetokounmpo strives for an elusive championship with the Bucks, quelling speculation about potentially leaving Milwaukee after signing a five-year supermax contract extension worth $228 million. Now, he contends with his next big hurdle: proving that committing to a small-market franchise can bring Milwaukee back to glory.
“Mirin Fader gives readers a gorgeous portrayal of one of the most unique talents to ever play professional basketball. But Giannis is more than just the comprehensive story of a once-in-a-generation athlete. It is the story of how American promise intersects with iron will, and heartwarming vulnerability.”—Jemele Hill, host of "Jemele Hill Is Unbothered"
“For years, I have admired Mirin Fader’s ability to tell a long-form journalism story. I’m happy (and unsurprised) to say her skillset has translated over perfectly to books. This book is engaging, smart, and unputdownable.”—Shea Serrano
“Around the time that the Greek Freak was busting out in the NBA, Mirin Fader was doing the same thing in her line of work. In a journalism world that had become more and more about opinions, Fader decided that she would be a storyteller, and she invariably spins her tales with vividness and clarity, fueled by endless curiosity.”—Jack McCallum, author of Dream Team
“Mirin Fader traces an upbringing marked by deep family ties, extreme poverty, racism, and xenophobia. Like its subject, this biography is serious, engaging, and, more than anything, inspiring.”—Ben Golliver, author of Bubbleball
“Giannis the basketball player is almost too good to be true—and so is his story, told here with vivid writing and meticulous reporting. Mirin Fader’s portrait of the young superstar is as graceful, understated, and powerful as Giannis himself. A superb biography.”—Jonathan Eig, author of Ali and Luckiest Man
“We think we know everything about modern-day superstars. We’re sure we know everything about modern-day superstars. Then along comes Mirin Fader with this nuanced, detailed, revealing portrait of a man who has lived one hundred lives in twenty-six years. A fantastic read that proves most dreams go unaccomplished without toil, despair, grit, and an unyielding quest to soar.”—Jeff Pearlman, author of Three Ring Circus and Showtime
“The stories. My goodness, the stories. Mirin Fader’s ability to find and tell the most illustrative and humanizing tales really shines through. A player this great deserves his story to be told like this."—Marcus Thompson, author of Golden and KD
“An inspiring rags-to-riches account….Fader never loses sight of how Antetokounmpo continued to put his family’s needs first.…[A] captivating portrait of a sincere, diligent, and humble talent."—Publishers Weekly