Giannis: The Marvelous Journey, which is now streaming on Prime Video, shows both the softer side of NBA great Giannis Antetokounmpo as well as his road to success. Family is everything to Antetokounmpo who was born and raised in Athens to Nigerian immigrant parents, but when the Milwaukee Bucks signed him more than 10 years ago, the power forward had to leave his father, mother, and three brothers behind in order to pursue his pro basketball dreams. With a little help from the owner of the Bucks, Antetokounmpo brought his family to America and achieved a sense of harmony and happiness he always wanted.

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The film adeptly addresses Antetokounmpo and the Bucks’ victorious road to the 2021 NBA championship. However, it’s the moments shown with his parents, brothers, fiancée Mariah Riddlesprigger, and their children—two boys and a girl—that prove to be the most relatable and heartwarming.

We caught up with Antetokounmpo and Giannis: The Marvelous Journey director Kristen Lappas to talk about the film and the behind-the-scenes details fans didn’t see.

In the film, it is revealed that a tragic loss made you consider leaving the NBA behind. Was that tough to share?

Antetokounmpo: There have been a couple times when I’ve contemplated leaving the game. I like to do things that I enjoy and without my family, I can’t be happy. At the end of the day, my family is always there for me. I did it to provide for them and I do it to make them proud. And now, I do it to make my own kids proud. That’s my motivation—my family.

Image stills from Prime Video documentary 'Giannis: The Marvelous Journey'

Are there moments with your family the film didn’t capture?

Antetokounmpo: I enjoy hard work. I enjoy seeing myself improving. I enjoy reaching my goals in front of my family. It’s something I’ve always loved. I spend time with my kids before I go to the arena. I warm up with the team and I see my kids. I kiss them. I kiss Mariah. I compete. And no matter the outcome, I feel loved.

Why was it important to you to show touching moments with Antetokounmpo and his family?

Lappas: I wanted to prioritize him as a man, father, son, and brother. Seeing the relationship he had with his dad was different from the man we see on the court. So is his relationship with his children. I wanted to show a different side of him.

Image stills from Prime Video documentary 'Giannis: The Marvelous Journey'

Top of mind for me is that until this film, Giannis wasn’t comfortable showing his kids in public. He covers their faces with emojis on social media. I respected and appreciated his beliefs and it wasn’t until I earned his and Mariah’s trust, that they let me in and I was able to capture those tender moments, which are easily some of the best in the film.

What compelled you to tell his story?

Lappas: Giannis’ agent, Alex Saratsis, is Greek American. I’m Greek American. That’s why you see terms like “Philotimo,” which is a Greek philosophy that means “love of honor,” used in the film to describe Giannis. It’s a philosophy that matters to him as a player, father, son, and brother.

Image stills from Prime Video documentary 'Giannis: The Marvelous Journey'

Greek people are very proud people and I come from a basketball family. [Her father, Steve Lappas, is a retired college basketball coach.] I’ve made other sports documentaries and won awards [Emmys] for them.

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His is a basketball story. It’s a Greek story. It is a story about family. It is all of the things and a dream scenario that allows me to feel passionate about Giannis’ story and tell his story in a passionate way. When you feel connected as a storyteller, you do a better job telling the story.

What message are you hoping people walk away with after watching 'Giannis: The Marvelous Journey'?

Lappas: I hope people walk away understanding this is not just a sports story. It’s an immigrant story and a story about the sacrifices parents make for their kids. Giannis’ relationship with Greece is really complicated because of the struggles he and his family endured in a mostly white, Greek Orthodox country. He feels a sense of pride coming from there, but he and his family also experienced discrimination.

Image stills from Prime Video documentary 'Giannis: The Marvelous Journey'

There is a wonderful moment in the film, it’s one of my favorites, when Mariah explains that, “immigrants aren’t criminals who are coming to steal your jobs.” My hope is that that message resonates with audiences and they walk away with a better understanding of the immigrant experience.

Check out Giannis: The Marvelous Journey, now available on Prime Video.