Wolves star Karl-Anthony Towns talks losing mother to COVID-19

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 11: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves hugs his parents, Karl and Jackie Towns after winning the game against the Denver Nuggets of the game on April 11, 2018 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. T ((Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) / Getty Images)

For the first time in six months, Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns broke his silence this week and opened up about losing his mother to health complications after contracting COVID-19.

Towns did an interview with Natalie Manuel Lee, posted to YouTube on Monday, called “The Toughest Year of My Life.” On March 11, the NBA suspended its season after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. One month later, on April 13, Towns’ mother, Jacqueline Cruz Towns, died of health complications after contracting Coronavirus. She was 58 years old.

When she originally started showing symptoms, Towns and his family took her to JFK Hospital in New Jersey, where he was born. She was eventually transferred to the University of Penn Hospital for better treatment. She was starting to show signs of recovering three weeks into her battle, but things changed when she suffered a stroke.

“I got a phone call from my dad and I knew something was off. My heart was just jumping. I answered the phone he looked just stressed. I said what’s wrong and he was like ‘She’s gone. She had a stroke during the night and she’s gone,’” Towns said as he got emotional.

Towns says then made the most difficult phone calls of his life, calling her sisters, his dad’s family and his grandmother.

“It was difficult, it was very difficult because she was just screaming on the phone. There’s nothing worse than losing your kid. There’s no pain that measures up to losing your mom, but if I lost my kid, I would be devastated. That was a tough one,” Towns said.

She wasn’t getting better, her health was deteriorating and Towns had to make a decision. It was time, in his words, “to pull the plug.” Jackie Cruz Towns was taken off a ventilator, and passed away a short time later.

“It just hurts, it hurt so bad. I’m just happy I had the time because it made me who I am,” Towns said.

Towns’ only other public appearance since his mother’s death came shortly after George Floyd died in a police incident in south Minneapolis on Memorial Day, sparking riots and demonstrations across the world against racism and police brutality. He attended a rally in Minneapolis, hosted by friend and NBA college Stephen Jackson. Wolves’ teammates, coaches and staff gave him space this summer as he grieved.

The Wolves’ season ended March 11, when the NBA suspended play. Sitting 13th in the Western Conference at 19-45, they weren’t invited to the league’s return in Florida. But basketball was the last thing on his mind as he and his family dealt with and accepted his mother’s health.

He’s still taking things day by day, six months later.

“I don’t know what the next day holds for me, I just know that right now I’ve got to keep it together and try to find the smile and fun in life,” Towns said.