Audiences have never seen a story like that of the Antetokounmpos. After emigrating from Nigeria to Greece, Charles and Vera Antetokounmpo (Dayo Okeniyi and Yetide Badaki, respectively) 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 was 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 and Thanasis — 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, along with brother, Kostas. 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 life of his entire family. 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.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Tiana S. comments, “All rise for the heartwarming, inspirational biographical story of Giannis Antetokounmpo and his family!  Rise is a story of family, sacrifice, love, and basketball. Perfect for the entire family, the Antetokounmpos’ story is sure to score in the hearts of viewers.” See her full review below.

Rise
By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

All rise for the heartwarming, inspirational biographical story of Giannis Antetokounmpo and his family!  Rise is a story of family, sacrifice, love, and basketball. Perfect for the entire family, the Antetokounmpos’ story is sure to score in the hearts of viewers. 

Rise follows parents, Charles (Dayo Okeniyi) and Veronica (Yetide Badaki) Antetokounmpo, as they leave their home, and oldest son, in Nigeria due to immigration laws and head to Greece. There the couple struggles to find work and raise their children, Thanasis (Ral Agada), Giannis (Uche Agada), Kostas (Jaden Osimuwa), and Alexandros (Elijah Shomanke). Even though they are struggling to survive and dodging immigration, Giannis and Thanasis take up basketball for a local youth team. They find a passion for the sport and eventually are noticed by scouts, which starts their quest for the NBA … but not without still playing defense against deportation, racism, and laws preventing them from getting work permits.

While the movie focuses on the rise of the Antetokounmpo brothers, the entire family is the star of this film. Everyone makes sacrifices in order for Giannis to get drafted into the NBA, which opened doors for his brothers. Every day leading up to the 2013 NBA draft is a challenge to avoid deportation. One wrong move can expose them and send everyone back to Nigeria. The film is an emotional rollercoaster as you follow the Antetokounmpo’ journey from Nigeria to Greece to the NBA. My favorite aspect of the movie is seeing all the sacrifices each family member made for the overall goal. I enjoyed the old-school and hip-hop songs, which will draw in audiences of all ages. The camera angles also help engage viewers and give a close up understanding of the family.

Rise is all about family and sacrifice. The family shows what you can accomplish when everyone sticks together. Throughout the film, we see how Charles Antetokounmpo constantly reminds his children that “if one scores, then they all score.” He instills in them the value of family and how they can’t make it by themselves. Considering that Giannis, Thanasis and Kostas became the first trio of brothers to win championships in NBA league history, I would say they understood the assignment.  

Rise is not just for basketball fans … it’s the perfect family movie that is just the inspiration we all need to keep pushing forward. I give Rise 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids ages 10 to 18, plus adults. Rise tips off on Disney+, June 24, 2022.

Keywords: Dayo Okeniyi, Yetide Badaki, Manish Dayal, Taylor Nichols, Ral Agada, Uche Agada, Akin Omotoso, Vaya, Arash Amel, A Private War, Bernie Goldmann, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Douglas S. Jones

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