Karl-Anthony Towns is heading into his seventh season in the NBA. But he’s doing so with a new perspective on life after seeing firsthand how COVID-19 affected him and his family.
The Minnesota Timberwolves star has used his platform to advocate for the coronavirus vaccine. Now, Towns is addressing unvaccinated players like Kyrie Irving, saying he won’t accept any non-legitimate reasons to avoid the vaccine.
Karl-Anthony Towns was considerably affected by COVID-19
The 25-year-old Towns has seen how much damage coronavirus can bring. Not only to himself, but to his loved ones as well.
In April of last year, Karl-Anthony’s mother Jacqueline died due to complications from COVID-19. She was 59 years old. Towns also lost his uncle to the virus, as well as five other family members.
“You may see me smiling and stuff, but that Karl died on April 13th,” Towns said after Minnesota’s season-opener last December. “He’s never coming back. I don’t remember that man. I don’t know that man. You’re talking to the physical me, but my soul has been killed off a long time ago.”
Then, approximately nine months after losing his mother, Towns himself tested positive for the virus. The young, athletic Towns lost 50 lbs during his bout with coronavirus while missing nearly a month of action for the T-Wolves.
“I’m a high-risk case,” Towns said. “COVID did not treat me well whatsoever. A lot of scary nights.”
Towns speaks out on Kyrie Irving and others
Irving, the Brooklyn Nets‘ malcontent point guard, is making headlines for his decision to remain unvaccinated. As a result, the Nets will not allow him to play or practice with the team until he receives the vaccine.
With the Nets and Timberwolves set to play each other in a preseason game on Thursday, Towns was asked about Irving and other players who have refused the shot.
“I’m obviously a strong believer in the vaccine,” Towns told NJ.com. “I’ve been through so much and it would be kind of contradictory to not be on the pro-vaccine side. But what I will say is that I believe in choice and I like to give people their choice and I have no problem with people having their choice.”
However, Towns also stated that if players are unvaccinated, they should have a legitimate reason why.
“I think that’s not only a human right, but it’s an American right as well. … They make their own decisions on their own bodies and their own families. I have no ill will towards that. The only thing I would say is just don’t give me a ****** excuse why [you don’t get the vaccine] … You don’t want to do it, that’s your choice.”Karl-Anthony Towns
The number of vaccinated players across the league is growing, but it’s not quite at full strength. As of September 30, the NBA reported that 95% of its players are vaccinated, with several teams reaching the 100% threshold.
Towns has been a strong advocate for the vaccine
While KAT believes people like Irving should still have a choice, it doesn’t mean he isn’t fighting to change people’s minds, particularly on social media.
“Every day I see a new excuse why people ain’t getting the vaccine,” Towns wrote last month on Twitter. “Ya starting to get creative with these ‘reasons’ though and it’s actually really funny.” In a response to a comment, he also said, “Same people that make crazy false narratives have no facts AT ALL, are too lazy to do the research. They just make judgment if the narrative is true or false to seek some kind of weak-*** entertainment.”
Additionally, Towns wrote a message on Instagram just after testing positive for coronavirus, raising awareness for the severity of the disease.
“I pray every day that this nightmare of a virus will subside and I beg everyone to continue to take it seriously by taking all the necessary precautions. We cannot stop the spread of this virus alone, it must be a group effort by all of us.”
Fortunately, the two-time All-Star has made a full recovery and is ready to lead the Timberwolves once again. But expect Towns to continue to lead the charge for vaccine awareness, as well.
All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.