Rise (2022) ending explained – what does the film say about Giannis Antetokounmpo and his family?

By Marc Miller
Published: June 24, 2022

This article discusses the ending of the Disney+ film Rise (2022), which will contain spoilers. 

Ready Steady Cut film critic M.N. Miller says, “Rise is family-friendly, but is an underwhelming story about a family that is anything but.”

Rise is about the Antetokounmpo family living as illegal immigrants and under the radar in Greece. They migrated from Nigeria years prior, and any attempt or avenue to become Greek citizens has not been accessible to them. They have five children, four born in Greece and one they are trying to reunite with. For Charles (Dayo Okeniyi) and Veronika (Yetide Badaki), it’s about being able to gain Greek citizenship for themselves and their children. Unfortunately, lawyers keep telling Charles he cannot do that without a job that requires an AMKA number (the Greek version of a serial number). The four children help their mother sell items on the street. The kids help but are often subject to immigration police crackdowns that have the Antetokounmpo running for their freedom.  

Charles used to be a professional soccer player in Nigeria. He has them play soccer in the streets to keep the boys busy. Giannis (Uche Agada) and Thanasis (Ral Agada) are the oldest kids. They are drawn to the basketball when they play in a pickup game. One of the kids tells them they should come down to the Filathlitikou team center in Athens. The main selling point is that they can join for free. The downside is this may draw unwanted attention to the family’s immigration status.  

Thanasis is good enough that he is cut a check to play in the Greek league but is rejected when he and his family’s immigration status is not resolved. Eventually, Giannis begins to draw interest based on his sheer athletic ability. When he signs with an agent, he is being pursued to join a prominent league in Spain, granting them citizenship so the whole family will be together. However, again, he is rejected because of his family’s status.

A star agent in Greece, who rejected Giannis before, tries to steal them by offering them money and the entire family visas, but if they don’t, he threatens he can have them deported. Their current agent comes up with a plan — let’s go straight to the NBA. Except, they need the family to be granted citizenship. The only way for that is if he goes in the top 15 picks. The team then will not keep him in Europe and make that financial investment.  

Disney+ film Rise (2022) ending is explained 

Not only does Giannis’ future hang in the balance, but his entire Antetokounmpo family is at risk too. Even though Charlie and Veronika had all four children in Greece, they have no proof or paperwork of this happening. That means all six family members could be sent back to Nigeria. Also, the oldest is still back in their home country and was raised by their grandmother. This is the only way for them to reunite with that poor child who has not seen his parents since he was little. 

If you know the history, you know what happens next. The film does a nice job of building some tension as Giannis keeps falling in the draft. However, the team he won the NBA championship with two seasons ago takes him at number 15 — the Milwaukee Bucks.

The movie ends with clips and dedications. His brother, Thansasis, still plays for the Bucks and wins a ring with his brother. Kostas won a championship with the Lakers during the pandemic-shortened season. Alex plays the G-League, and the Toronto Raptors own his rights. The film shows Giannis winning his first championship and MVP. He spoke emotionally about his father, who died before he could see him do either. 

What did you think of the Disney+ film Rise (2022) ending? Comment below.

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