Nikola Jokic was born on Feb. 19, 1995 in the city of Sombor in Serbia. He grew up with two older brothers, Strahinja and Nemanja. There's no information on his mother's name, but the patriarch of the family is Branislav Jokic.
The Jokic family had a decent life in Serbia, but Nikola's childhood was traumatic. It was 1999, and NATO dropped bombs on erstwhile Yugoslovia during the Kosovo War. Cities and towns were targeted for months that left hopsitals and other buildings destroyed.
There was no electricity in most of parts of the country, inluding Sombor. The Jokic family had to live in darkness at night for weeks before hostilities subsided. It was a tough childhood for Jokic, who would go on to play basketball for a living.
After a dark period during the NATO bombings, Nikola Jokic fell in love with basketball and horce racing. His two brothers played basketball and influenced him to be great at it.
However, there was a time that Jokic loved horse racing too much that he became an amateur racer. He told Slam Magazine in 2016 that was thinking about playing basketball for a living or continue his passion for horses.
"Basketball was always in my life," Jokic said. "I had two older brothers who played basketball. I fell in love with basketball because of them. ... But then at some point in my life, I started to go into horse racing. I just fell in love with horses and their beauty and elegance."
"I was just amateur. I just had one amateur race, and I took fourth place, but that was good because in that race they were all better horses than I had and drivers with more experience. I did good for a first-timer."
Nikola Jokic basketball career
Nikola Jokic was 17 when he started playing professionally in Serbia for Mega Basket in 2012. Jokic declared for the NBA draft in 2014 and was selected 41st overall by the Denver Nuggets. He stayed in Serbia for one more season before moving to the United States in 2015.
Jokic quickly established himself as one of the best young big men in the NBA. He was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 2016 before breaking out in 2018. He was named to his first All-Star Game a year later and won back-to-back MVPs in 2021 and 2022.
"The Joker" has also won a silver medal in the Olympics for the Serbian national team in 2016. He didn't win a third consecutive MVP this season but remains one of the best players in the league.