Giannis Antetokounmpo, a 29-year-old Nigerian-Greek NBA star, has unveiled a learning centre in Lagos to promote Igbo literacy among children in Nigeria.
Giannis plays in the National Basketball Association (NBA) with the Milwaukee Bucks in the United States.
The two-time NBA Most Valuable Player unveiled this in a documented YouTube video titled ‘UGO: A Homecoming Story’ Ft. Giannis Antetokounmpo, with the NBA star being accompanied by his mother, who emigrated from Nigeria to Greece 35 years ago.
Born in Athens, Greece, on December 6, 1994, his father was a staunch soccer fan, and his mother was a high jumper who emigrated from Nigeria to Greece 35 years ago.
The documentary, produced in collaboration with Giannis Foundation CAFF, WhatsApp and nonprofit organisation NABU, started a Lagos hub to promote literacy with Igbo children’s books.
The NBA player said the establishment of the learning hub was inspired by his mother to give Igbo children a supportive atmosphere in which to learn their mother tongue.
Giannis, born of a Yoruba father and an Igbo mother, said he could not learn both languages because his parents disagreed on who should teach the kids their dialect.
“My whole life. You know, like whenever you go and you meet people in the streets and they ask you where you from and you tell them Nigeria. It’s like, “Okay, what part?”
“You know, growing up, like we always said Yoruba because my dad was proud. But my mom is from Igbo.
“My mum used to secretly teach us how to count the A, B, C in Igbo.
“She tried to teach us a lot of things about where she was from and her culture.
The power forward known by his nickname, Greek Freak, expressed joy about the establishment and claimed that he now has a book that his mother can read in her original tongue and translate into English.
“It was unbelievable. I have a book that my mum can read in Igbo and translate below in English.
“If I had that, I would probably be speaking my mother’s or father’s languages. I know that I need it, I wish that my kids and grandkids could have it. It is amazing.”
Giannis signed a mega $186 million deal with the Milwaukee Bucks following his remarkable exploits with the Bucks.
He also joined Michael Jordan as the only basketball player since the ABA–NBA merger to put up at least eight 50-point and 10-rebound games in their career.