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HomeNEWSSPORTSKarl-Anthony Towns is More Than An Athlete: He's a Warrior and Survivor

Karl-Anthony Towns is More Than An Athlete: He’s a Warrior and Survivor

It’s crazy to think how far removed we are, yet how far along we remain dealing with this pandemic. The timeline has gone from “two weeks” to “man I don’t know just wash your hands,” and for those fortunate enough to still be here we really have no idea what’s over the horizon let alone how close or far we may be from it.
Over the last few years where space and solitude was the hand we were dealt, getting to know ourselves was the “Big Joker” on the board. Mental health in its entirety has been and will continue to be a taboo topic amongst many circles, especially in sports. In an atmosphere driven by results and statistics, the idea of something that isn’t exactly quantifiable doesn’t sit well, especially for those with some financial skin in the game.
We’ve seen it recently with Simone Biles in the Olympics, Lane Johnson in the NFL, and Naomi Osaka in tennis. All athletes were met with skepticism and clouds of judgement because they spoke out about the battle between the ears rather than the one we can all see on television. But what happens when we can all see the battles unfold in front of the public eye in real time?
Karl-Anthony Towns or “KAT” as some call him, has been faced with hardship on and off the court since exploding on the scene and being named Rookie of the Year for the 2015-2016 season. Being the top pick in the draft, there was no “learning curve” or time given to Towns’ development. In the beginning of his career, everything seemed to be pointing up. From being awarded NBA-All Rookie First Team, breaking and setting records his second year, to being named an All-Star in his third year, KAT was one of the biggest names on the court. Then the clouds rolled in…
In January of 2021 Karl tested positive for COVID-19. This was about nine months after his mother, Jacqueline Cruz-Towns, passed from COVID-19 at the age of 58 along with six other member’s of his family falling at the hands of COVID-19. In a span of about a year, the young star found himself pitted against another opponent. Life.
“I’ve had a lot of situations this year where things were just too much for me…,” said Towns. “I just remember in the house, and it was more than just COVID for me. I felt like I was going through a holistic journey.”
If you ever experienced losing a loved one you can identify with the mental and physical turmoil that follows for what seems to be forever. The void is enough to send just about anyone into the deepest parts of themselves, and looking for comfort and stability would be enough to justify any other decision BUT carrying on. The poise, determination, and understanding it would take to come back and even face the sun again would be that of a mythological God and Karl-Anthony Towns carries it daily.
“There’s just a strength that’s been instilled in me since I was young… my mom has, in weird ways, I feel, prepared me for this moment to handle more than I ever thought I possibly could,” Towns said. “I’m just taking that strength in everything I’ve been through in my life…I’ve garnered a lot of strength through a lot of trials and tribulations and it’s made me the man I am today. I wouldn’t change it for anything.”
As I said before, mental health is a taboo topic across the board. There are those who believe it exists and those who believe it’s nothing more than a scapegoat, either way it is often underacknowledged and underrecognized as a factor. We’re looking at a professional athlete who’s constantly under a microscope, seemingly undressing himself in the public eye, and in the midst of it all he’s going through for pure transparency if nothing else. It may not be painted step by step, but the fight many face with mental health behind closed doors is being broadcasted for us every single time KAT suits up and takes the court.
The duality of continuing to fight with the acknowledgement of that fight being composed of daily battles is the essence of mental health.
“I’ve put basketball front and center in my life so I wouldn’t have to deal with the demons on the back end, but it’s going to be good to really get some help,” Towns said. “I’m excited for that, personally, and also when that last horn goes off to truly take a step back and be proud of where I’m at. I’ve come a long way this year. So I’m just going to be taking a step back and truly take a moment to give myself a pat on the back and be happy of how far I’ve come.”
 
A year removed from that quote, and Towns is still patting himself on the back as his fans admiringly do the same. Leading the Timberwolves to a playoff push appears to be next on Towns’ list, and striving to fight for our mental health with the same humility and tenacity that Towns did should be on all of our to-do lists.  
Malcolm Anderson | Malcolm Anderson is a Cum Laude graduate of Reinhardt University. From the beginning of his education, the ideas of creativity and ever-expanding curiosity were instilled in him. He loves working with children and helping them believe that they can do anything they put their mind to, a lesson he was taught from an early age. Although his focus is on Sports Media, Malcolm has been writing for various mediums over the past few years and aims to expand his repertoire in an effort to reach as many people as possible.
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