Monday night’s NBA Awards show from Los Angeles brought together the best from the basketball world to celebrate a past season of greatness. While awards went to the top rookie, defender, and most improved NBA player of the past season, it was the Most Valuable Player that closed things out.
That award went to Milwaukee Bucks’ “Greek Freak” and Giannis Antetokounmpo’s MVP speech brought forth plenty of emotion.
Giannis pays tribute to dad in emotional MVP speech
Accepting an award such as Most Valuable Player is a great honor and it often brings about plenty of emotions. Winning players come to realize all of the hard work, sacrifice, and obstacles that they’ve had along the way.
Giannis broke down during his acceptance speech as he thanked the Milwaukee Bucks’ front office and ownership for believing in him when he was just 18-years-old living in Greece.
Giannis mentioned fans back home supporting him by getting up as early as 5 a.m. to watch games and sending him support messages. He then turned his attention to his father who passed away.
A teary-eyed Antetokounmpo said, “I want to thank my dad. Obviously, my dad is not here with me. Two years ago, I had the goal in my head that I’m gonna be the best player in the league and I’m gonna do what it takes to help my team win and win MVP.”
“Every time I step on the floor I always think about my dad and that motivates me and pushes me to play hard and move forward,” the league’s new MVP said as he choked back tears.
Giannis also gave thanks to his brothers, whom he called his “role models” and his “ride or dies.” In addition, the three-time NBA All-Star thanked his team after what was a great NBA season.
Still, the overwhelming emotions came through most when speaking of where he came from and how he got there, as well as the family who inspired him.
Who was Giannis Antetokounmpo’s father?
While Giannis’ mother was in attendance, he mentioned his father was obviously not there. Charles Antetokounmpo passed away in September 2017 at age 54. Per the Sentinel Journal, a heart attack claimed his life in Milwaukee.
A former professional footballer in Nigeria, he and wife Veronica moved to Greece in 1991. That’s where the Greek Freak story began. Charles’ passing was also an emotional stretch of time for a young Giannis, but he clearly showed where he was heading with a huge performance a month later.
— Greek Freak Nation (@GreekFreakUSA) October 1, 2017
In an October game against the Portland Trail Blazers, the Greek Freak scored 44 points. After his huge output and a Bucks’ victory, he wrote the note “This is for daddy. We got a win tonight” on the game ball, per ESPN. That motivation continued to carry Giannis to more amazing performances through last season and will likely continue to do so in the future.
This could very well be the first of many NBA MVP Awards for Giannis Antetokounmpo. However, his first-ever acceptance speech will easily rank amongst the best in recent memory.