MILWAUKEE, Wis. – Dimitris Zamanis knocked off a couple items on his bucket list Tuesday.
Travel to the United States of America: Check.
Attend his first NBA game: Check.
Meet Giannis Antetokounmpo: Check.
On Tuesday, the 15-year-old, who lives with aplastic anemia, a condition in which the body stops producing enough red blood cells, came all the way from Greece to meet his hero, the Greek Freak.
Zamanis, his mother, Haroula, and brother took a nine-hour flight from Greece to spend time with the Bucks superstar Tuesday, during the team’s shootaround and pregame activities. He and his family will be in the BMO Harris Bradley Center stands to watch Antetokounmpo and the Bucks take on the Atlanta Hawks Tuesday night in a visit coordinated by Make-A-Wish Wisconsin.
While Zamanis said he originally didn’t want to “make a wish” because he wanted other children to get theirs granted first, when the idea of meeting Antetokounmpo came to him, he and his mom agreed they had to ask. They never expected to travel to Milwaukee to do it.
“It was a difficult year for me and in the beginning I didn’t want to wish something from Make-A-Wish,” Zamanis said. “But then I talked to my mom that we have to meet Giannis so we called Make-A-Wish and said we want to meet up with Giannis and it was great and it was a relief. It was difficult in the hospitals… It will be great remembering this.”
Zamanis said the last year and a half since he has been diagnosed have been hard, especially because he can’t play basketball anymore. But he hopes to apply a few hoops lessons on ball-handling and layups from Antetokounmpo in “a couple months” when he can return to playing.
The laughs and lessons exchanged between the two Greeks on the practice court today had Haroula Zamani emotional.
“I thank all the people in Greece of Make-a-Wish in Greece and in America from the bottom of my heart because we had really hard and difficult times,” she said. “Now we’re trying, day by day and step by step that he gets well.”