MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Thaddeus Young's mother had been battling cancer for a year and a half, so the Minnesota Timberwolves forward had spent considerable time preparing himself for the worst of outcomes.
Still, when that day finally came 11 days ago, all that preparation didn't make it any easier. The only consolation Young took in Lulu Hall's death on Nov. 13 was that he was able to make it back home to see her before she left.
''The last 10 or 15 minutes of my mom's life I was there holding her hand,'' Young said Monday when he returned to Timberwolves practice. ''I felt her last breaths as she passed away.''
The Timberwolves went 1-4 while Young was away from the team, and they also lost point guard Ricky Rubio, center Nikola Pekovic and shooting guard Kevin Martin to injuries during that stretch.
Young is averaging 14.3 points and 5.0 rebounds this season. And with the injuries to three other starters, the Wolves badly need his veteran presence on a team that is now relying on rookie Andrew Wiggins to generate much of the offense. Wiggins had 29 points on Saturday against Sacramento, but coach Flip Saunders needs another player who can get his own shot and create turnovers on defense.
Young said he was finding comfort in returning to the work routine and being around his teammates, who are trying to lend their support and help him through a trying time.
''My mom is one of the strongest women I knew,'' Young said. ''She did everything. She sacrificed everything. For her to pass, it definitely hurts badly. She was my motivation, my concentration, my focus, everything. Just try to keep making her proud.''
The Timberwolves will practice again on Tuesday before hosting the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night.
''I think it's good for him (to get back) just from perspective of he's had a chance to do a lot of things back home and try to get his head straight and get things organized,'' Saunders said. ''In some ways, once they start playing, there's almost a little bit of closure to it.''