Karl-Anthony Towns Pays Tribute to Late Mother Jacqueline Cruz on Her Birthday

Blake SchusterAnalyst IJuly 21, 2020

Kentucky NCAA college basketball player Karl Anthony Towns, top, poses with his girlfriend India Gentry, left, and his mother Jacqueline Cruz-Towns after Karl-Anthony announced his intent to place his name in the NBA draft during a news conference at the Joe Craft Center, Thursday, April 9, 2015, in Lexington, Ky. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
James Crisp/Associated Press

Karl-Anthony Towns paid tribute to his late mother on what would have been her 60th birthday and her 30th wedding anniversary, on Monday evening.

Jacqueline Cruz-Towns died April 13, more than one month after contracting the coronavirus. In a tweet and Instagram post, Towns took a moment to publicly express gratitude and love toward his mother.

Karl-Anthony Towns @KarlTowns

Happy 30th anniversary to my parents. More importantly, happy birthday to my reason for being alive. Not a single day goes by without me thinking of you. Your energy is missed not only in the household you built but in this world overall. Love u & miss u more than people know. https://t.co/zc0IIide4d

Towns has often referred to himself as a "mama's boy" and previously chose to play basketball for the Dominican Republic national team in honor of her.

A number of NBA players and league associates were quick to respond on both platforms with support for Towns, including former Minnesota Timberwolves teammate Zach LaVine. 

"Real love bro," LaVine wrote. "We all miss her!" 

Both of Towns' parents tested positive for COVID-19 with his mother's symptoms worsening over time. Cruz-Towns was eventually placed in a medically-induced coma and required a ventilator. The condition led Towns to post an emotional plea on March 24, begging others to take the virus seriously and help frontline workers. 

Towns would go on to donate $100,000 to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota to aid research into the coronavirus.

“There’s nothing like her passion, her emotion,” Wolves President Gersson Rosas said per Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “She was a classic team mom that you never see in professional sports. … She had 15 kids every time she came around us. It just drew me back to Little League or high school where you see a parent that’s just passionate.”

Across both the sport of basketball and the state of Minnesota, Towns' grief was shared with those who knew his family. From Kentucky Wildcats coach John Calipari to Minnesota governor Tim Walz.

On her birthday, the basketball world showed up again to make sure Towns knew he wasn't alone.