By KEITH TAYLOR, Kentucky Today
LEXINGTON — Jackie Cruz battled the coronavirus for more than a month and died because of complications from COVID-19 Monday.
“The Towns family is heartbroken by the untimely passing of Jacqueline due to complications as a result of COVID-19,” a family spokesman said. “Jackie, as she was affectionately known among family and friends, had been battling the virus for more than a month when she succumbed on April 13.”
Jackie Cruz is the mother of Karl-Anthony Towns, who starred in one season at Kentucky before moving on to become an NBA All-Star.
“We are devastated for Karl-Anthony Towns and his family,” Kentucky men’s basketball’s twitter account posted Monday. “Ms. Jackie was a ray of sunshine and Karl’s No. 1 fan. Our thoughts and prayers are with Karl and the entire Towns family. Big Blue Nation, please keep them in your thoughts.”
Known as the matriarch of the Towns family, Jackie was an “incredible source of strength.”
“(She was) a fiery caring and extremely loving person, who touched everyone she met,” the spokesman said. “Her passion was palpable and her energy will never be replaced.”
The family “is extremely grateful for the outpouring of love and support they have received during the very difficult time.”
Towns spoke of the seriousness of the disease on a social media post last month.
“People need to understand that the severity of this disease is real,” he said. “This disease needs to not be taken lightly. Please protect your family, your loved ones, friends, yourself. Practice social distancing. This disease is deadly. Me and my family are going to keep fighting this. We’re going to beat it. We’re going to win. I hope my story helps you. I send my love to all your families.”
Towns’ father, Karl Towns Sr., recovered from the virus.
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Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter @keithtaylor21.