Karl-Anthony Towns spent part of this week with his family commemorating the one-year anniversary of his mother Jacqueline's death from COVID-19.
As he returned to Minnesota, Towns said his father, Karl Sr., was peppering him with questions, concerned for his safety after the police killing of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center less than a year after the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.
The questions on Towns Sr.'s mind? "Are you OK?" "Did you make it home safe?" "Are you driving?"
"He's a parent," Towns said. "He understands what this kind of world right now in America presents to us."
Towns addressed the killing of Wright for the first time after Friday's 119-111 win over the Heat and said that this world America presents to Towns and his father involves them having a "target" on their backs as it relates to interactions with police.
"I think people of color, parents of color all around this country, have said what I just said to their kids who are colored as well. Just make sure you get home alive," Towns said.
Towns thought back to an event he was at with kids and police following the death of Philando Castile in 2016, and how at the time it was a great event — how they showed kids that most police are good.
"But it makes it hard for people like us to lend our voice and our platform to something that right when we're done with this amazing meeting and amazing gathering they go and do the same thing again," Towns said. "It makes it really hard for us to be believable in that."
Towns has called Minnesota home longer than any of his teammates except Ricky Rubio, and this last year has been hard for him to see such tragedy happen in his community. He's tried to tell his teammates this isn't reflective of the Minnesota he knows. But it's getting harder to make that case.
"It's embarrassing," Towns said. "You see the beauty this place has, the community has, the people have, and then to have something like this put just a big stain on your words and your experiences here. ... But I'm going to keep stressing the importance of how great this community is and keep telling people, with these guys, make sure they understand that they've got to keep themselves safe."