For Karl-Anthony Towns, it’s been a year of unimaginable tragedy. It would be enough to break anyone. Early in the pandemic, Towns announced the devastating news that his mother had died from COVID-19, one of the early casualties of the fatal illness that was spreading across the nation and would eventually send the country into indefinite lock-down.
But the heartache didn’t stop there for Towns. Last week, he divulged that since his mother passed earlier this year, six more family members have been lost to the virus. Yet, amid it all, Towns has been a constant presence in the ongoing fight against racial injustice around the country this year.
In fact, Towns showed up at the George Floyd rally in Minneapolis just weeks after his mother died. Towns, along with new teammate and close friend D’Angelo Russell, have each been a visible presence at these types of gatherings in their respective communities, and Towns has said it was his mother who inspired him to take action, despite the enormous grief of her loss.
Looking back, Towns said, “My mom would have wanted for me to be there.
“It gave me the push, the motivation to go. I found strength in myself to do something for others even when,” said Towns, 25. “I told D’Lo [Russell] when he asked me, ‘It’s always easy to do the right thing when it’s easy for you. But it’s very hard to do the right thing when it’s very inconvenient for you.’ And that is why I went. I knew it was the right thing to stand up for racial injustice and to find ways to help the youth and spread the message that this police brutality and racial injustice has to stop. Especially in a community that has given me the opportunity to live the life I live. …
“But I really just feel like it was the strength of my mother that gave me the strength to even get out of the house and go outside.”
As both Towns and Russell look forward to their first full season together as teammates and everything they want to accomplish on the court, they also have set their priorities about remaining active in the fight for social change. That could mean a lot of different things in the coming year all across the league, but one thing for certain is that theirs and other players’ devotion to the cause will not waver as there is still plenty of work to be done.