Jacqueline Cruz-Towns, the mother of Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns, died this week due to complications from COVID-19, her family said in a statement. She was 58.
The Timberwolves made the announcement on Twitter on Monday through a Towns family spokesperson. Cruz-Towns had been “battling the virus for more than a month,” the statement said.
“Jackie was many things to many people — a wife, mother, daughter, grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend,” the statement said. “The matriarch of the Towns family, 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 Towns family thanked the “medical warriors” who cared for Cruz-Towns at Penn Presbytarian Medical Center in Philadelphia and JFK Medical Center in Edison, New Jersey, noting that they also helped her husband and Towns’ father, Karl Towns Sr., who has since recovered from the coronavirus.
After his parents fell ill, Towns, 24, posted an emotional video on Instagram on March 24, revealing that his mother had been put on a ventilator in a medically induced coma. He announced that she had been hospitalized after experiencing symptoms, including a high fever and a persistent cough.
In the same video, Towns urged his followers to stay home to mitigate and stop the spread of the coronavirus.
“The disease needs not to be taken lightly, Please protect your families, your loved ones, your friends, yourself. Practice social distancing. Please don’t be in places with a lot of people,” he said.
In March, Towns donated $100,000 to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for COVID-19 testing.
The Timberwolves remembered Cruz-Towns as a fixture at her son’s games throughout his career and considered her as 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,” the team said.
University of Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari, who remained close to the family after Towns was selected as the first overall pick in the 2015 draft, said on Twitter that receiving the news of Cruz-Towns’ death was one of the hardest phone calls he’s ever had to take.
“She was a special woman,” Calipari tweeted. “Ms. Jackie was an angel and we were blessed to have her in our lives.”