With the first NBA regular season game just 19 days away, Karl-Anthony Towns's mind is understandably elsewhere.
The Timberwolves center found out last night that he has now lost seven family members because of complications from COVID-19, including his mother Jacqueline Cruz-Towns in April.
"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."
The 25-year-old posted an emotional video on March 25 about his 58-year-old mother being placed on a ventilator and put into in a medically induced coma because of the coronavirus. She died 19 days later.
"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."
His father also had the virus but has since recovered.
"I'm the one looking for answers still, trying to find how to keep them healthy," Towns said. "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 shared several videos on social media, discussing what he went through while caring for his mom and how he felt after she passed. He wanted 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."
"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."
Towns welcomes the new season gearing up since he hasn't competed in a NBA game since February, when he injured his wrist. But it won't be the same without his mom on the sidelines, who hardly ever missed a game. He said that seeing his mom at the baseline and in the stands "having a good time watching me play" made him smile.
"It is going to be hard to play," Towns said. "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."
Over 275,000 people in the United States have died from COVID-19, according to the CDC. The CDC also announced a record 219,187 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the U.S. on Thursday, pushing the total number of cases over 14 million.
Over 1.2 million cases nationwide were reported in the last seven days. Minnesota alone has had 44,323 in the last week.