Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Priest Says the Athlete’s Faith Is ‘Precious Guide’ for NBA Stardom

Antetokounmpo has a strong relationship with his priest and regularly attends church when his schedule allows. Antetokounmpo’s priest says the Bucks star’s faith is a “precious guide” for his NBA stardom. Here’s what you should know about his faith.

Giannis Antetokounmpo’s faith

Antetokounmpo comes from a humble background. His family raised the NBA star and his four brothers in poverty in Athens. But the story of his devotion to the Greek Orthodox Church isn’t well-known.

Years ago, Antetokounmpo developed a special relationship with Agios Meletios Church’s priest Father Evangelos Ghanas. He baptized him and his brother in 2012, reports Greek Reporter. He has such pride for his native Greece that he chose to be baptized on OXI Day, the nation’s second-most important national holiday.

In fact, the Bucks star has such pride in his Greek heritage that he refuses to sign the Greek flag when fans ask. The time Antetokounmpo spent at his church’s Sunday School in his poor neighborhood was critical. According to his priest, it helped shape his character for the rest of his life.

What Father Evangelos Ghanas says about Antetokounmpo

Last year, Father Evangelos spoke to Greek newspaper Ethnos about Antetokounmpo. He recalls being unable to forget about the star’s “gaze,” saying he finds it “difficult to describe. There was innocence (in his eyes) but also a hope. No fear and no resentment.”

The priest also discussed Antetokounmpo’s humbleness, saying “he stands firmly on his feet” in real life, as opposed to “flying on the court” when he’s playing. Father Evangelos recalls Antetokounmpo never holding a grudge against society despite growing up in poverty. He said he doesn’t recall the NBA star “ever complaining or having a sense of being wronged by life and being aggressive towards society.”

Father Evangelos also spoke about Antetokounmpo’s upbringing in Greece, as he “went to school” there and “became a Christian in the same country.” Now that he’s living thousands of miles away in America, Antetokounmpo is “carrying his memories [of Greece] as a precious guide to his later life,” according to Father Evangelos.

This later life includes being one of the biggest NBA stars. After all, he’s placed the Bucks in contention to win the franchise’s second NBA title and the first in nearly 50 years.

How Antetokounmpo’s faith helps navigate NBA stardom

Antetokounmpo’s faith has helped him stay grounded despite being the reigning MVP of the best pro basketball league in the world. He learned a lot from Father Evangelos, beloved by his parishioners because he helps children and teenagers.

The affection is clearly mutual. Antetokounmpo has not forgotten Father Evangelos over the years. The “Greek Freak” has discussed Father Evangelos in interviews. He recalls attending Sunday School as a kid: “There was a man there who was helping us a lot. You cannot imagine how much he helped.”

That man, of course, was Father Evangelos, who encouraged Antetokounmpo to become the man he is today, one of the greatest athletes in the world.