Jacqueline Towns, a native of the Dominican Republic, had been a fixture at her son’s games as he went from a five-star high school recruit to a one-and-done season at the University of Kentucky to the top draft pick in the 2015 NBA draft and, so far, a five-season career with the Timberwolves.
In a 2014 interview with the Louisville Courier-Journal, she described herself as a “loud and rowdy” fan who liked to “stomp my feet and curse a little bit.” Her son has played for the Dominican Republic national team because of his family ties, and he praised his mother’s homemade arroz con pollo in a 2017 interview with the Undefeated.
In a public service announcement March 24, Towns pleaded with viewers to take the public health crisis seriously.
“The severity of this disease is real,” he said. “This disease needs to not be taken lightly. Please protect your family, your loved ones, your friends, yourself. Practice social distancing. Please don’t be in places with a lot of people. This disease is deadly.”
In the video, Towns explained that his mother and father, Karl Towns Sr., fell ill in mid-March. After his mother’s condition didn’t improve, Towns and his sister, Lachelle, encouraged her to go to the hospital for a coronavirus test. Towns said the test results didn’t come back “for a long time.”
While Karl Towns Sr. was released to self-quarantine at home, where he remains, Jacqueline Towns stayed at the hospital, where her condition began to deteriorate. Her symptoms “kept getting worse,” Karl-Anthony Towns explained, despite the hospital’s best efforts.
“I felt she was turning a corner,” he said, describing a brief time of progress. “I knew there were more days to come, but we were heading in the right direction. [Then the doctors] said she went sideways. She went sideways quick. Her lungs were getting extremely worse. She was having trouble breathing. They were explaining to me that she had to be put on a ventilator.”
The Timberwolves spent weeks preparing for the arrival of the coronavirus before the NBA season was shut down March 11 but were left reeling when it touched their franchise center. The organization set up internal support systems to aid with the grieving and coping processes.
“In the four-plus years we were fortunate to know Jackie, she became part of our family,” the Timberwolves said in a statement Monday. “Her passion for life and for her family was palpable. 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 as she supported her son and the Timberwolves. … We would like to thank all the doctors, nurses and medical personnel who cared for Jackie during her illness and all of Karl’s fans who sent their support this past month. Our deepest condolences go out to Karl and his family during this difficult time.”
A number of NBA players offered their condolences to Towns on Twitter.
Towns said last month that he was doing his best to remain positive while providing encouragement to his mother, whom he described as “the boss” of the family.
“I told her I loved her,” Towns said of their conversations since she was admitted to the hospital. “Every day, I told her how much I loved her. She was telling me things I didn’t want to hear. … Life might keep throwing punches at me, but I’m going to keep getting back up. I’m not going to quit. Neither will my family. Neither will my mother. Dominican women are strong. My mother is the strongest woman I know.”
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