Disney+ original film based on the true story of remarkable Antetokounmpo basketball brothers

Antetokounmpo: a Nigerian surname which, according to the Yoruba people of West Africa, means “the crown has returned from overseas”

ESPN Africa today announced that the Disney+ original film Rise, will have its linear premiere across the continent on ESPN (DStv218, Starsat 248) on Monday 1 August at 20:00. Directed by Akin Omotoso, Rise is based on the triumphant true-life story of 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 former Los Angeles Laker Kostas Antetokounmpo. 

In this powerful, uplifting film, viewers will witness how one family’s vision, determination and faith lifted them out of obscurity to launch the career of two-time MVP Giannis and his brothers, Thanasis and Kostas. Last season, Giannis and Thanasis helped bring the Bucks their first NBA championship ring in 50 years, while Kostas played for the previous season champs, the Lakers. 

After immigrating to Greece from Nigeria, Vera and Charles Antetokounmpo struggled to survive and provide for their five children, while living under the daily threat of deportation. 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 would play basketball with a local youth team. Latecomers to the sport, they discovered their great abilities on the basketball court and worked hard to become world-class athletes. With the help of an agent, Giannis entered the NBA Draft in 2013 in a long-shot prospect that would change not only his life but the lives of his entire family. 

Newcomers Uche Agada and Ral Agada – also real-life brothers – portray young Giannis and Thanasis, with Jaden Osimuwa and Elijah Sholanke as their younger 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.

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