As Karl-Anthony Towns prepares to begin his sixth season with the Minnesota Timberwolves, he said he also is continuing to process the death of his mother, Jacqueline Cruz-Towns, and six other family members who also died of complications from the coronavirus.
"I've been through a lot, obviously starting out with my mom," Towns said Friday. "Last night I got a call that I lost my uncle. I feel like I've been hardened a little bit by life and humbled."
On March 25, Towns shared an emotional video on Instagram explaining that his mother had been placed on a ventilator and was in a medically induced coma as a result of the virus. Cruz-Towns died April 13 at the age of 58.
"I've seen a lot of coffins in the last seven months," Towns said. "I have a lot of people who have -- in my family and my mom's family -- gotten COVID. I'm the one looking for answers still, trying to find how to keep them healthy. It's just a lot of responsibility on me to keep my family well-informed and to make all the moves necessary to keep them alive."
Towns' father, Karl Sr., also contracted the virus but has recovered.
Towns has posted several video updates to his social media detailing what he went through as he cared for his mother and how he felt after she died. He said that he felt the need to share those videos to help people better understand the effects of the disease.
"I didn't want people to feel the way I felt," Towns said. "I wanted to try to keep them from having the ordeal and the situation I was going through. It just came from a place that I didn't want people to feel as lonely and upset as I was. I really made that video just to protect others and keep others well-informed, even though I knew it was going to take the most emotionally out of me that I've ever been asked to do."
Towns said that his teammates -- particularly D'Angelo Russell -- helped him navigate the weeks after losing his mother. He said he got a slew of supportive calls and text messages from members of the Timberwolves organization.
Towns said that although getting back to playing basketball is something he welcomes, it also will be challenging for him to play without his mother. Cruz-Towns rarely missed one of his games.
"It always brought me a smile when I saw my mom at the baseline and in the stands and stuff and having a good time watching me play," Towns said. "It is going to be hard to play. It's going to be difficult to say this is therapy. I don't think [playing basketball] will ever be therapy for me again. But it gives me a chance to relive good memories I had."