MINNEAPOLIS — Jacqueline Cruz, the mother of Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns, has died from complications as a result of COVID-19.
According to a statement from Towns family that was tweeted out by the Timberwolves, Cruz died on April 13 after battling the novel coronavirus for more than a month.
"Jackie was many things to many people - a wife, mother, daughter, grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend," the Towns family said in their statement. "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."
Towns announced his mother's diagnosis back on March 24 in a 5-minute video he posted on Instagram. 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 the emotional video on his Instagram account on March 24, revealing 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.
He also, in that video message, made an impassioned plea to people to stay home to help stop the spread of the virus. The East Coast has been hit particularly hard by COVID-19, with a death toll in New York state alone that has topped 10,000.
Back in March, Towns made a $100,000 donation to the Mayo Clinic for COVID-19 to help fund research into a test for the illness.
“This 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," said Towns, who donated $100,000 last month to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for COVID-19 testing.
Kentucky coach John Calipari, who stayed close to the Towns family after he turned pro, 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.
"I've had the privilege and the pleasure of meeting Karl ... you find very few people just with such a positive outlook, so I'm deeply sorry for the loss in their family," said Gov. Tim Walz on his daily coronavirus briefing.
Teams from around the league showed their support for Towns and his family on Twitter.
Support also came from teams and organizations outside of the NBA.
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The state of Minnesota has set up a hotline for general questions about coronavirus at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903, available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
More information on the coronavirus:
- Facts not fear: What the Midwest should know about coronavirus
- Current number of presumptive coronavirus cases in Minnesota and Wisconsin
- Coronavirus-related cancellations, postponements and impacts in the Twin Cities
- Here are the common symptoms of coronavirus
- What are the 'underlying conditions' that make coronavirus more serious?