The sporting world is searching for answers as news emerges that Rockets Coach Kevin McHale's Daughter, Sasha McHale, died Saturday at the age of 23. How did Sasha McHale die? Who was Sasha McHale? What were her passions?
Kevin McHale announced less than two weeks into this NBA season that he was taking a leave of absence from his coaching duties, leaving fans to wonder what the matter was.
The team, which has been led by Kelvin Sampson in Kevin McHale's absence, said that he was leaving for an indeterminate amount of time in order to tend to a personal family issue, but did not provide additional information at the time, according to the Associated Press.
On Sunday, Yahoo! Sports reported that the tragic situation was addressed in a statement by Leslie Alexander that shines some light on the McHale family's ordeal but does not specifically address the cause of death:
“I extend my deepest condolences to Kevin and Lynn for the loss of their beautiful daughter, Sasha, on Saturday afternoon,” Alexander wrote. “Kevin and Lynn are loving and dedicated parents who will need our continued support throughout this very difficult time. Our entire organization is mourning the McHale family's loss and we ask that you keep them in your thoughts and prayers."
Alexander did not provide any information about Coach McHale's future plans or anything beyond that short statement, according to Yahoo! Sports.
Here are five things to know about Sasha McHale, a girl who died far too soon:
1.) She suffered from lupus. Sasha McHale lived for many years with the deadly disease lupus, Jonathan Feigen, a blogger for the Houston Chronicle's Ultimate Rockets blog reports. Though SB Nation reports that Sampson said on Wednesday that the McHales' family situation – aka the state of Sasha McHale's health – was “improving,” the disease is fatal, consuming and unpredicatble, and fate had other plans for Sasha McHale. Lupus is an incurable autoimmune disease that causes a wide range of symptoms from hair loss and skin rashes to mouth sores and, usually death in the end. Veronica Scott, a teammate on Sasha McHale's 2008 high school basketball team, said that Sasha was a student at the University of Minnesota Duluth and that she fell ill during a 2011 study abroad trip in Australia, according to the St. Paul Pioneer- Press. She then went on to return home in order to deal with her disease.
2.) Sasha McHale, who turned 23 last month according to ABC News, was an accomplished athlete herself before being brought down by lupus. Following in her father's basketball-playing footsteps, Sasha McHale played forward for the Totino-Grace Eagles in Minnesota, according to the St. Paul Pioneer-Press. She wore #32 on her jersey, as did her father during his Hall of Fame Boston Celtics career, during which he also played forward.
3.) She will be remembered. The Internet has been abuzz with discussion of Sasha McHale's death, with an outpouring of support emerging as people learn of her sad fate. Many of basketball's leading lights are even expressing their condolences in light of Sasha McHale's early passing. Coach Kevin McHale used to coach the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the team's owner, Glen Taylor, offered the following words following her death: “While Kevin was with our organization, we all watched Sasha grow up and become an outstanding young woman," Taylor wrote. "She will be sorely missed by her family and friends." In the wake of Sasha McHale's death, Houston guard James Harden tweeted: “Praying for coach McHale and his family” and his teammate Chandler Parsons tweeted: “R.I.P. Sasha.”
4.) Her first name was Alexandra. Though the world will likely remember Kevin McHale's 23-year-old daughter as her nickname, Sasha McHale, her first name was actually Alexandra.
5.) You can make a donation in her name to help support research to find a cure for lupus. Click this link to go to a page where you can make a donation to the Lupus Foundation of America. You can choose to make a generic donation, or to do so in Sasha McHale's name, as many folks are sure to do in the wake of her succumbing to the fatal disease.
Veronica Scott, one of Sasha McHale's dearest friends, will get the last word in this piece:
“She was positive even though she struggled so much," Scott told the St. Paul Pioneer-Press. "Everyone that knew her was impacted by her, and she brought happiness to every person."
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