Coronavirus: Celebrities Who've Lost Family Members to COVID-19

Laura Dern

The actress shared that for many reasons — including taking care of her 85-year-old mother, Diane Ladd — she’s taking COVID-19 precautions extremely seriously. She knows firsthand the devastating effects the virus can have, having lost a friend to it earlier in the year.

“I’ve had friends who are on ventilators, who pulled through. I’ve known people of all ages who’ve been very sick. And we had one beautiful friend and artist who lost his life to it,” Dern, 53, tells PEOPLE. “So we certainly take it very seriously as, I pray at this point, everyone globally does.”

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Karl-Anthony Towns

Jacqueline Towns — mother of Karl-Anthony Towns, who played for the Minnesota Timberwolves — died on April 13 after falling ill from the coronavirus, COVID-19. She was 59.

“The matriarch of the Towns family, she was an incredible source of strength; a fiery, caring, and extremely loving person, who touched everyone she met,” the Towns family shared in a statement. “Her passion was palpable and her energy will never be replaced.”

Later that year, the NBA star shared that she was just one of seven family members he lost to the coronavirus. “I’ve seen a lot of coffins in the last seven, eight months,” the athlete said. “I have a lot of people who have, in my family and my mom’s family, gotten COVID. I’m the one looking for answers still, trying to find how to keep them healthy. It’s just a lot of responsibility on me to keep my family well-informed and to make all the moves necessary to keep them alive.”

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Khabib Nurmagomedov

Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, the father and coach of UFC reigning lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, died of coronavirus complications, the athlete’s manager confirmed on July 3, 2020. He was 57.

The fighter’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, told ESPN that Abdulmanap died in Moscow, where he had been hospitalized since May.

Abdulmanap was diagnosed with COVID-19 while in the hospital and later underwent heart surgery for a pre-existing condition which was exacerbated by the virus.

“We’ve lost our backbone,” Abdelaziz told the outlet. “He was a father, coach, brother, an icon. Things will never be the same without him.”

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Ilhan Omar

Minnesota Rep. Omar announced on June 15, 2020 that her father had died from complications of the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19.

“No words can describe what he meant to me and all who knew him,” she said of her dad, Nur Omar Mohamed.

“My family and I ask for your respect and privacy during this time,” she said.

In a tweet echoing her statement, she wrote of her “tremendous sadness and pain … to say goodbye” to her father. She also quoted the Quran: “Surely we belong to God and to Him shall we return.”

Other details about Mohamed’s illness and death have not been released.

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Rory Kinnear

The James Bond actor lost his sister to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), he revealed in a personal essay in The Guardian, published May 12.

Kinnear, 44, shared that his sister Karina, who had severe brain damage after suffering from a lack of oxygen at birth, died May 10 at age 48 shortly after testing positive for coronavirus.

Due to the current lockdowns, Kinnear and his family had to say their goodbyes to Karina completely virtually — a heart-wrenching moment he reflected on in the essay. 

“Her conditions weren’t just ‘underlying’, they were life-defining, for her and for us, even if she remained unaware of their severity,” the No Time to Die actor wrote. “But Karina had defied predictions her entire life.”

“No one could describe Karina as weak: she did not have it coming, she was no more disposable than anyone else,” he said. “Her death was not inevitable, does not ease our burden, is not a blessing.”

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Holly Marie Combs

The Charmed actress is condemning President Donald Trump for his early comments about the novel coronavirus following her grandfather’s death from the respiratory illness.

On April 27, Combs criticized the president for a recent tweet in which he claimed that he “never said the pandemic was a Hoax!”

In her reply, the star shared that her “grandfather died today…. from Covid-19 one day after his 66th wedding anniversary.”

“He voted for you. He believed you when you said this virus was no worse than the flu. He believed every lie you muttered and sputtered,” wrote Combs. “You’re a disgrace to the human race.”

A White House spokesman had no comment.

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Sebastian Telfair

The former NBA player lost both his mother and older brother to COVID-19 in a span of one month. His mother Erica died on April 27 at 64, and his brother Dan died the month before on March 28, according to the NY Post.

“It’s been tough, but I’m just glad that they’re both not suffering anymore,” Telfair’s half-brother Jamel Thomas told the Post in a phone interview. “Everybody’s crying at home. Everybody is being safe, they’re staying in. There’s nothing we can do. We can’t go and console each other physically. But we do have a group chat and a group FaceTime. We talk and cry through that. That’s what we’ve been doing.”

Telfair paid tribute to his older brother on Instagram in a March 28 post, writing, “😢 miss my big brother already!”

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Riz Ahmed

The actor opened up about losing two family members in an April 2020 British GQ interview.

“Since we spoke I have lost two family members to Covid,” he wrote in an April 23 WhatsApp message to the outlet. “I just want to believe their deaths and all the others aren’t for nothing.”

“We gotta step up to reimagine a better future,” the Night Of star added.

Later in the interview, the Star Wars actor said that he hopes “we come out the other side of this with a bit more humanity.”

Ahmed said that he believes the change needed for a “fairer society” begins with individuals at home.

“I used to think that when people said that change starts with ourselves it was a lazy cop-out, some yuppie yoga mantra,” Ahmed said. “But actually right now the universe is saying, ‘Everyone go home and think about what you’ve done. Think about how you’re going to do things differently.'”

“It’s taken me six weeks of fretting and thinking about how I can be productive, how I can help fight the fight, to sit back and think, ‘You know what? It starts at home,'” he added.

“We have to, right now, lay the groundwork for a more compassionate society by trying to build a more compassionate inner voice. We have to try to address all the programming in our mind that tells us, ‘You are what you produce,’ that defines our worth in capitalist terms. We need to really look at that. And if we can learn to sit with ourselves, if we can realise how little we really need to be happy, I think that’s the essential building block for us to scale that to a fairer society.”

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Elizabeth Warren

Massachusetts Sen. Warren announced on the morning of April 23 that her older brother Don Reed had died. He was 86, according to The Boston Globe.

The Globe reported that Reed, whose full name was Don Reed Herring, tested positive for the virus about three weeks prior and died in Norman, Oklahoma.

In a statement, Warren, the youngest of four siblings, remembered her brother’s spirit, buoyancy and strength of character. She also shared family photos of him, including one of Reed in the cockpit of a small plane.

“He joined the Air Force at 19 and spent his career in the military, including five and a half years off and on in combat in Vietnam,” Warren said. “He was charming and funny, a natural leader.”

“What made him extra special was his smile—quick and crooked, it always seemed to generate its own light, one that lit up everyone around him,” she continued.

In addition to his siblings and his wife, Reed is survived by his two sons, John and Jeffrey, according to the Globe.

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Evelyn Lozada

The Basketball Wives star lost her stepfather, Larry, to coronavirus on April 6. 

Lozada announced the news on Instagram on April 13, writing in a post, “Larry, as you sit in heaven enjoying the company of God, I say thank you for the great memories & thank you for being the greatest stepfather a girl can ask for!”

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Michael Che 

The Saturday Night Live star revealed in a lengthy Instagram post on April 6 that his grandmother died after contracting COVID-19.

“Hi. I’m Michael Che, from TV. Last night my grandmother passed away from the coronavirus,” he wrote. “I’m doing ok, considering. I’m obviously very hurt and angry that she had to go through all that pain alone. But I’m also happy that she’s not in pain anymore. And I also feel guilty for feeling happy. Basically the whole gamut of complex feelings everybody else has losing someone very close and special. I’m not unique. But it’s still scary.”

Che then wrote about his frustrations with the coronavirus outbreak. 

“I don’t know if I’ll lose someone else to this virus. I don’t even know if I’ll be lost to this virus. Who f—— know? I shouldn’t curse,” he wrote. “I’m just frustrated, cause there’s so much we still don’t know about it.”

He finished his post by writing, “To anybody thats lost someone to this virus like I have, I don’t have to tell you how much it hurts. But just know what we will make it through this.”

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Bevy Smith

The television personality who hosted Bravo’s Fashion Queens, lost her father, Gus Lee Smith, to coronavirus. He was 95 years old.

Smith posted a tribute to her father on Instagram alongside his photo. She wrote, “Weeping May Endure For A Night, But JOY Cometh In The Morning – Psalms 30:5 Gus Lee Smith, Sunrise February 1925 – Sunset April 11, 2020 #MyDaddy” 

In another Instagram post, she wrote alongside a photo of her as a young girl with her dad, “I can’t wait until I can hug my daddy like this again & I wouldn’t even care that my hair looked this bad if I could get one more smile & hug!”

Though there was no mention of coronavirus in either of her posts, she replied to one person’s tweet about the loss of their mother-in-law saying, “I’m so sorry for your loss, as a person who has lost an elder (my Dad) to the sheer pandemonium & inadequate healthcare system of the COVID pandemic, I feel your pain!” 

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Nico Santos

The Superstore star revealed on Instagram that his stepdad, Sonny, died after contracting COVID-19. His mother had also been diagnosed, but has since recovered. 

In the heartbreaking post, Santos wrote, “My Tito Sonny passed away yesterday after losing his battle with COVID-19. He was a kind, caring man. Friendly to a fault. He always greeted strangers walking past him with a chipper ‘Good Morning!’ and a big smile. He had a great laugh that filled the room with joy.” 

Santos added, “The loss of my stepfather is devastating but what has gutted me is that this pandemic has kept my family apart. We were unable to be with him during his last days. I can’t hold my mother as she mourns her husband. I can’t hug my brother as he contemplates a world without his father. I can’t wipe away the tears from my nephews’ eyes as they wonder why their Lolo Sonny isn’t here anymore.”

Santos then thanked his followers for their offering up “prayers, love and assistance to our family during this difficult time.” He added, “I hope all of you are staying safe and healthy. Rest In Peace Tito Sonny. I love you.”

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Sophia Myles 

The Doctor Who star documented her father Peter’s hospitalization after he was quarantined for days in London due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) before his passing on March 21. 

Myles announced her father’s death tweeting, “RIP Peter Myles. My dear Dad died only a few hours ago. It was the Corona Virus that finally took him.”

Myles also shared photos of her father from his hospital room, including one of their final moments together. “Yesterday I went on a journey to see my father. This is the harsh reality of the Coronavirus,” she captioned a photo of herself by his bedside as she wore gloves and a face mask.

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Adrienne Maloof

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills alumna announced on Instagram and Twitter that her uncle, entrepreneur Phil Maloof, passed away from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) at the age of 93.

“We lost my uncle, Phil Maloof to COVID-19 this past weekend,” she wrote on her Twitter and Instagram. “Bless him and the extraordinary life he lived. Rest In Peace ❤️.”

Phil, who was the younger brother of Adrienne’s late father, died on April 4 in Las Vegas, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

“He was a great man who loved his dogs and his collection of classic cars, art, and theater pipe organs,” Adrienne’s brother, George J. Maloof Jr., told the outlet. “He was a bachelor, he never married. He had been stricken with coronavirus and was diabetic and had been ill of late.”

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Adam Kuperstein

The NBC New York anchor opened up about the devastating loss of his father, who died from coronavirus complications.

In an emotional social media post, the anchor and reporter explained that his father “died with a stranger holding his hand,” as he and brother were unable to be with him at the hospital due to restrictions.

His mother, who had tested positive for coronavirus as well, was also absent from the hospital, as she had been “forced to stay inside their home, all alone.” She has, thankfully, since recovered. 

“All we could do was listen on the phone (from our separate quarantines), choking back tears, as the nurse informed us ‘his heart stopped,’ ” he wrote. “That’s when our hearts broke.”

“We were shattered,” he added. “A week of picturing the man we called ‘Aba,’ connected to a ventilator in an Indianapolis ICU, was bad enough, but now we were forced to imagine life without him. I couldn’t. I can’t.”

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