The last 18 months for Karl-Anthony Towns have been well-documented. He not only lost his mother, Jacqueline Cruz-Towns, to COVID-19 in April 2020, but he also lost six other family members due to the same virus. On top of that, Towns suffered the first major injury of his career that kept him off the court for an extended period of time, was hit by a drunk driver during last summer’s offseason, and eventually contracted the same disease that cost the lives of so many people close to him.
For the last year-and-a-half, basketball has hardly been the primary focus for Towns. Anxiety and thoughts of stepping away from the game he loved consumed him. Following his bout with the coronavirus, the former Kentucky Wildcat lost 50 pounds during his recovery process.
Towns, who is about to enter his seventh NBA season, all with the Minnesota Timberwolves, recently went in-depth with Sports Illustrated’s Michael Pina to discuss the tragedies he’s had to endure and how his life has changed significantly as a result.
“I was as big as (teammate) D’Angelo [Russell],” Towns jokingly told Pina. “I was as big as our guards. You think I’m gonna play center?”
Towns was able to work his way back into shape thanks to a high-calorie diet–and he still managed to play 46 of the Timberwolves final 48 games during the 2020-21 season–but his return to the floor wasn’t a smooth transition by any means. He nearly experienced a panic attack after being cleared to rejoin the team back in February. Towns says that his mother is what “made basketball fun for my whole entire life.” Without her, playing the game became a challenge.
“That money s— don’t mean s— to me,” he says. “Time is the real thing we losing every day. I just really didn’t think I could play the game of basketball the way I want to represent myself in the NBA. I didn’t want to represent myself in a bad way. There’d be a lot of times we’d play a game. Game’s over. And I’m not even in there. I’m doing my own thing. I’m in the bathroom looking at myself, wondering if this is the man that I really think I am. I had 40. I’m still not happy with the man I see in the mirror. I’m still dealing with a lot of s—.”Michael Pina, Sports Illustrated
I would implore everyone to go read the entire article, as it gives a first-person account from someone who has been surrounded and impacted by COVID-19 more than most.