Giannis Antetokounmpo was overcome with emotion after he took the stage at the 2019 NBA awards as this year’s MVP.
The Bucks star secured his first-ever Most Valuable Player award Monday at the ceremony and shared a heartfelt and tearful message inspired by his late father.
“Obviously my dad is not here with me…” Antetokounmpo said as the crowd encouraged him with applause. “Two years ago I had to go in my head that I’m going to be the best player in the league, that I’m going to do whatever it takes to help my team win and that I’m going to win the MVP and every day that I step on the floor I always think about my dad.
“That motivates me and pushes me to play hard and move forward even when my body’s sore, even when I don’t feel like playing I always go show up.”
Antetokounmpo continued by thanking his brothers, who were in attendance, as well.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) June 25, 2019
Nike also shared a touching tribute to the 24-year-old forward.
Fate can start you at the bottom. Dreams can take you to the top. #justdoit
Congratulations to the 2019 Kia NBA Most Valuable Player: @Giannis_An34
— Nike Basketball (@nikebasketball) June 25, 2019
Antetokounmpo, who finished his sixth season with the Bucks, was a favorite heading into the night, along with 2017-18 recipient James Harden.
He became the youngest winner since Derrick Rose in 2010-11.
Antetokounmpo made a strong case for himself when he helped Milwaukee to the NBA’s best record at 60-22. His efforts — 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, and 1.5 blocks per game — were enough to beat out Harden for the hardware.