Heartbreaking answer to simple question
Karl-Anthony Towns took the court Thursday for the first time since enduring an off-season of heartbreak.
The Timberwolves star's mother, Jacqueline Cruz-Towns, died from COVID-19 on April 13, and the pain is still incredibly raw.
After posting 22 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists in the Timberwolves' 111-101 win over the Pistons, Towns was asked how his team's mindset was different this season.
His answer left reporters floored.
"You know what, I don't even recognise most of my other games and years I've played and how I felt those days," Towns said. "If I can be honest with y'all for a second, I mean, I don't really recall or really care. I only know what happened from April 13 on.
"Because you may see me smiling and stuff, but that Karl died on April 13. He's never coming back. I don't remember that man. I don't know that man. You're talking to the physical me, but my soul has been killed off a long time ago."
Towns took home the game ball from the win and said he planned to give it to his dad to place next to his mum in their home. He said the game was "heavy," but that "selfishly, it meant a lot," given what he has been through since he last took the court.
The 25-year-old centre revealed earlier this month that six other family members had also died of COVID-19, including an uncle. But he is trying to power through to play basketball for his teammates.
"No matter how bad my situation is, how f***ed up my life is, I'm gonna keep being here for these guys," Towns said. "I'm gonna let them see me smile even though inside I'm not smiling whatsoever. I owe that to these guys as a leader, I owe that to them as a teammate."
In return, Towns said his teammates have been a source of strength for him as he comes back from a crushing personal loss.
"They're there for me. I don't think I've been able to make it through warm-ups or intros this season yet, and I don't know how it was going to go," Towns said. "That woman meant the world to me, more than y'all will ever know and write, so I wouldn't be sitting in this chair if it wasn't for her. I wouldn't be alive. She saved my life multiple, multiple times when I didn't think I would get here. That's why I think it's such a different pain than even y'all recognise."
His comments drew an emotional reaction across the league.
"I feel for KAT so deeply," reporter Rhiannon Walker tweeted. "This level of vulnerability usually takes time to come to and then openly admit. It's so sobering and heartbreaking."
"This is one of the most real things an athlete has ever said," added George Wrighster. "I can't even imagine losing a parent. When my mom/dad were sick with Covid I thought about KAT. Just heartbreaking. Praying for his emotional and spiritual healing."
- New York Post
Originally published as Heartbreaking answer to simple question