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Karl-Anthony Towns' mother dies of coronavirus

Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns drives around Pacers forward

Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns drives around Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis during the first half of an NBA game in Indianapolis on Jan. 17.  Credit: AP/Michael Conroy

MINNEAPOLIS — Jacqueline Cruz-Towns, the mother of Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns, died Monday of complications from COVID-19 after fighting the virus for more than a month. She was 59.

A native of the Dominican Republic, Cruz-Towns was a fixture at Timberwolves games from the start of her son’s NBA career. He was the first overall pick in the 2015 draft out of Kentucky.

“Jackie was many things to many people — a wife, mother, daughter, grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend,” the statement from the Towns family said. “She was an incredible source of strength; a fiery, caring, and extremely loving person who touched everyone she met. Her passion was palpable, and her energy will never be replaced.”

The family expressed gratitude to the “warriors” at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center in Philadelphia and JFK Medical Center in Edison, New Jersey, where she received care.

After his parents first felt ill at their home in New Jersey, Towns and his sister urged them to seek immediate medical attention and be tested for the virus. Towns posted an emotional video on his Instagram account on March 24, revealing that his mother was in a medically induced coma. She’d been hospitalized after a high fever and bad cough persisted. After some improvement, Towns said last month, her situation “went sideways“ quickly.

Karl Towns Sr., the father of the two-time All-Star, also was hospitalized with the virus but has since recovered.

The Timberwolves expressed their condolences for a woman they considered part of their family: “As Karl’s number one fan, Jackie provided constant and positive energy for him and was beloved by our entire organization and staff at Target Center.’’

Kentucky coach John Calipari, who stayed close to the Towns family, said on Twitter that receiving the news from Towns and his father was one of the hardest phone calls he’s ever had to take. “Ms. Jackie was an angel and we were blessed to have her in our lives,” Calipari tweeted.

Towns has made a $100,000 donation to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for COVID-19 testing.

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