While Karl-Anthony Towns is bouncing back from his recent COVID-19 diagnosis, the Minnesota Timberwolves player is still coping with having lost seven loved ones to the virus.
The 25-year-old returned to the court on Wednesday night as the Timberwolves took on the L.A. Clippers. It was Towns' first game back since he was diagnosed with coronavirus in mid-January, just before a scheduled game against the Memphis Grizzlies that was later postponed.
While the Timberwolves lost to the Clippers, Towns — who is dating model Jordyn Woods — put up a solid 18 points and 10 rebounds in 31 minutes of action.
"I am a high-risk case," he told ESPN of his coronavirus battle. "COVID did not treat me well whatsoever. A lot of scary nights. One of the things that I told my sister when I got COVID was that, 'Hey, I got it, and I don't got a good version of it. I got a lot of COVID in me, but I am going to fight and beat it.'"
"Through all the long nights where I was just not feeling well whatsoever and the vitals weren't good and decisions had to be made on my health, I kept [my family and my niece and nephew] in mind," he continued. "They pushed me to continue doing things. When COVID kept messing with my body, my mind and spirit, I thought about them and my mother."
Last April, Towns lost his mother Jacqueline following a weeks-long battle with coronavirus. This loss was only magnified when Towns revealed in December that he lost six additional family members to the disease, saying he had "seen a lot of coffins in the last seven-eight months."
"You hear those stories where people get COVID," Towns said of his own experience with the virus. "And they're like, oh, for four days, five days, I didn't feel well, and then I turned the corner magically one day and I was feeling great. That did not happen with me."
"Everyone's case of COVID is totally different; every human and their underlying conditions are totally different," he added. "And my underlying conditions did not play in my favor at all for COVID, yet alone one of the most scariest parts for all of us in this organization and my immediate family is how genetically connected I am to my mother… Nothing was playing in my favor. I knew it was going to be a rough journey."
Towns went on to say that he felt "guilt" about the treatment he received following his diagnosis — details of which aren't immediately available — and how he wished more COVID-19 patients had access to it. Towns hinted at the emotional toll these feelings have caused him, telling ESPN he had to cope with "a lot of demons I haven't dealt with that I put to the back burner for basketball."
"I've been seeing so much s— the last year, I guess you would say," Towns told the outlet. "It just is what it is."
"I can't make sense of all the things that have happened in the world, yet alone to me," he added.
Now that he has recovered, Towns hopes he can inspire others to take the virus serious and help bring the pandemic to an end.
"COVID is a real thing," Towns said. "It ain't never going away. It hasn't diminished at all. It has just gotten smarter."
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