Rise, formally titled Greek Freak, is a American biographical sports-drama film based on the Antetokounmpo family and their rise to stardom within the NBA. It is directed by Akin Omotoso from a script written by Arash Amel. The film stars newcomers Uche Agada, Ral Agada, and Jaden Osimuwa in the three primary roles: with Elijah Shomanke, Yetide Badaki, and Dayo Okeniyi in supporting family roles. It was released by Walt Disney Pictures as a Disney+ original film. Principal photography was announced to have commenced by October 2021.
Based on the true story of three young Nigerian-Greek brothers, who emigrate to the United States and rise to fame and success within the National Basketball Association.
In 1990, Charles and Veronica "Vera" Antetokounmpo are forced to leave their eldest son Francis in Nigera while they travel to Greece for a better life. They are unable to get visas due to the political climate and thus have no identification and must remain in hiding. By 2004, they are settled and have four more sons, Thanasis, Giannis, Kostas and Alexandros. Despite being born in Greece, they are not granted legal citizenship due to the restrictive laws; putting their family at risk of deportation and separation. Charles tries to get documentation, but the double standard, in that he needs a visa for work, but he cannot get a job necessary to get a visa, frustrates the whole family.
Thanasis and Giannis begin playing basketball in the park. While Thanasis shows natural skill, Giannis has difficulty learning the game, but displays potential. They are invited to go to Filathlitikos to use the gym for free where they meet the coach Takis Zivas who sees promise in the two. By 2007, Thanasis is a star player and Giannis has improved significantly. The Antetokounmpos continue to face adversity when Thanasis is offered a check by a promising college team, only for it to get denied when his family history is looked into. Charles buys a car for the family, but are nearly kicked out of their apartment despite having the money for the next two months.
While playing a match, Giannis and Thanasis are scouted by drafters, particularly a young one named Haris Eleftheriou who is trying to convince the scout manager Paco to recruit the brothers. During the game Thanasis injures his leg; leaving Giannis to finish the game. Paco is unwilling to commit to them due to their status and Haris convinces Giannis to sign with him. True to their fears, none of the major teams are willing to sign Giannis; forcing him to have to play for recruitment. A Spanish league is willing to sign to him and will even grant Giannis citizenship, but he asks that his family also get recognized as well. Paco attempts to usurp Haris by offering them money, citizenship and immediate acceptance, but Haris will be dropped. Not willing to let go the person who fought for them, the Antetokounmpos turn down his offer.
Haris reveals that the Spanish team will not sign him to them, but they will grant him eligibility to try out for the 2013 NBA draft. If he succeeds his whole family will be relocated to America. Giannis asks that Thanasis come with him as they and Haris arrive in New York City to meet with American agent Kevin Stefanides. Haris and Kevin continue to try and pitch Giannis to various recruiters and manage to speak with John Hammond who appears apprehensive, though they do manage to intrigue a representative from Nike. Giannis is nervous after hearing that he might not be good enough, but Thanasis supports him. At the draft, Giannis is thrilled to hear that the Milwaukee Bucks chose him as their fifteenth pick; securing his family's future.
During the credits, it is revealed that Francis was eventually reunited with his family. Thanasis, Kostas and Alexandros all eventually joined the NBA as well while Charles died in 2017.
- Dayo Okeniyi as Charles Antetokounmpo
- Yetide Badaki as Veronica "Vera" Antetokounmpo
- Uche Agada as Giannis Antetokounmpo
- McColm Cephas Jr. as Young Giannis
- Ral Agada as Athanasios "Thanasis" Antetokounmpo
- Chinua Baraka Payne as Young Thanasis
- Daniel Agammegwa as Toddler Thanasis
- Elijah Shomanke as Alexandros "Alex" Antetokounmpo
- Jahleel Kamara as Young Alexandros
- Jaden Osimuwa as Kostantinos "Kostas" Antetokounmpo
- Aaron Kingsley Adetola as Young Kostas
- Efthimis Chalkidis as Haris Eleftheriou
- Panos Koronis as Takis Zivas
- Manish Dayal as Kevin Stefanides
- Christos Loulis as Paco
- Akin Omotoso as Bamidele
- Anthony Abiola as Francis Antetokounmpo
- Taylor Nichols as John Hammond
- Joke Silva as Cecelia
- Stamatina Gaj as Ms. Panatazis
- Eddie Cahill as 76ers Rep
- Maximiliano Hernández as OKC Thunder Rep
In October 2020, a biographical film centered around Giannis Antetokounmpo and his family was announced to be in development from The Walt Disney Studios. Developed under the working title of "Greek Freak" (a basketball nickname for Giannis), with Akin Omotoso serving as director from a script written by Arash Amel, the project was stated to show "through faith, determination, and their unbreakable bond, [the Antetokounmpo family] unite[s] to lift themselves out of a life of poverty as undocumented immigrants living in Greece." Bernie Goldmann was announced to serve as producer, while Giannis serves as executive producer. Production was tentatively scheduled to commence some time in 2021, in Greece and the United States.
- This is the first Disney production dedicated to be filmed entirely in Europe.