Karl-Anthony Towns Lost 50 Pounds Because of COVID-19; Talks Mental Health and More

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 27, 2021

MINNEAPOLIS, MN -  MAY 16: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves looks on during the game against the Dallas Mavericks on May 16, 2021 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

The past two years have been incredibly difficult for Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns. His mother died from COVID-19 in 2020. Six other members of his family, including his uncle, also died from the coronavirus. 

And in January 2021, Towns tested positive for COVID-19 and was forced to quarantine for several weeks, losing 50 pounds as he recovered. 

 "I was as big as D'Angelo [Russell]," he joked with Sports Illustrated's Michael Pina. "I was as big as our guards. You think I'm gonna play center?"

While Towns was able to regain the weight and returned to the team on Feb. 1, that night he had the symptoms of a panic attack while watching the team and had to go back into the locker room. 

"It was too much for me," he said. "My skin was itching."

Towns was able to return to the court nine days later. But he said after his mother's death, he didn't want to let his teammates, coaches or the fans down by not playing, and it took an emotional toll. 

"I never got a chance to really sit down and say, 'Hey Karl, what do you need?'" he told Pina.

"[My mother] made basketball fun for me my whole entire life," he added. "She made it where I wanted to even do this. So for me, I was like, '[There's] too much on my mind. I'm not, I can't, nah, I can't.'"

Towns, 25, continued to produce, averaging 24.8 points, 10.6 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.1 blocks while shooting 38.7 percent from three, though the virus and injuries limited him to 50 games.

But he said he spent the offseason self-reflecting, balancing working out and working on his game with relaxing with friends and family, telling Pina he's found "comfort in where my life is right now" and that the grief he feels has lessened. 

"I'm like, 'I'm ready. If we had to start today. I'm more than prepared. I'm mentally prepared to go to Minnesota, live in Minnesota, play this game of basketball,'" he said he told his girlfriend Jordyn Woods in early September. "I've been working tremendously hard this offseason. I've been working on not only my body but just working on me."