“Ugo” Chronicles NBA Star Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Journey to Nigeria
Directed by Rick Famuyiwa, UGO takes us into the NBA stars’ familial and cultural ties, offering a perspective beyond his on-field exploits.
●20th January 2024
Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo embarked on a journey to Nigeria, capturing the essence of his familial ties and cultural heritage in a new documentary titled “Ugo.”
The 31-minute film, produced in partnership with WhatsApp and directed by Rick Famuyiwa (“The Mandalorian”), provides a candid glimpse into the NBA star’s visit to the land of his mother, Veronica, and late father, Charles.
The documentary unfolds against the backdrop of Antetokounmpo’s impressive basketball career, which includes winning an NBA championship and two MVP awards. However, “Ugo” takes us through a side of the basketball star rarely seen by the public.
“A lot of people know that I represent the Greek national team, and they call me ‘The Greek Freak,’ but they’ve never seen this side of me. My parents are Nigerian. When I was growing up … it was a Nigerian household. I grew up in Nigerian culture.”
Accompanied by his mother, the trip to Nigeria proved to be a poignant and personal experience for Antetokounmpo. The film captures his interactions with extended family, including cousins, uncles, aunts, and other relatives. It showcases the NBA star immersing himself in the local scene, engaging with kids on basketball courts and soccer pitches, participating in traditional dances, and sharing meals with loved ones.
Antetokounmpo’s mother, Veronica, plays a pivotal role in the documentary, providing a narrative thread that weaves through the experiences of the Antetokounmpo family.
“My parents are Nigerian. When I was growing up … it was a Nigerian household. I grew up in Nigerian culture,” Antetokounmpo expressed.
The documentary also unveils a surprising twist during a family gathering when the NBA star thought he was prepared for the taste of Nigerian cuisine. However, a renowned chef presented a feast featuring semolina, fufu, jollof rice, and pepper soup. Antetokounmpo, known for his competitive spirit, admitted.
“I can’t be soft. I’m a very competitive guy. I cannot be like, ‘I cannot handle this.’ So I’m eating the pepper soup and I’m sweating.”
Even the documentary crew felt the heat as they sampled the spicy cuisine. Antetokounmpo chuckled.
“They are all wheezing because of the spices.” Despite the challenge, the NBA star embraced the moment, reflecting on the experience with humor and humility. “That’s probably one of the best moments ever in my life, for your mom or your parents to appreciate (what you have done). It was very, very, very, very humbling,” he shared.
“Ugo” is now available for global streaming on YouTube, offering fans a unique and personal perspective on Giannis Antetokounmpo’s journey back to his Nigerian roots. The documentary not only highlights the NBA star’s accomplishments on the court but also celebrates the cultural richness and familial bonds that have shaped his life.
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