Celebs who lost loved ones to Coronavirus
As the novel coronavirus continued to rage through the United States, millions of people were left grieving the losses of loved ones. While several stars have used their platforms to help fight COVID-19, raise awareness, and make donations, money and fame haven’t immunized Hollywood from the disease itself. Numerous celebrities have also contracted the virus or have had their lives affected by the pandemic in many ways — including the tragic deaths of family members.
As the fall of 2020 approached, experts were already warning that those losses may continue to mount. “It will likely be worse than the initial wave we experienced this spring,” Dr. Robert Glatter, a physician at New York City’s Lenox Hill Hospital told Healthline. “Combined with influenza, the intensity of both viruses combined could make our initial COVID-19 look benign.”
Losing a loved one is difficult for anyone, but it gets exponentially harder when you feel the need to share your pain and mourn your loss with millions of fans and followers. Here are some of the celebrities who sadly had to do just that.
Rory Kinnear wrote an op-ed tribute after losing his sister to coronavirus
Black Mirror actor Rory Kinnear shared the tragic story surrounding his sister’s May 2020 death at the age of 48 in an op-ed for The Guardian. The touching piece also served as a tribute to people with disabilities, who were fighting to live during the global pandemic. “My sister died of coronavirus,” read the title. “She needed care, but her life was not disposable.”
Rory explained that his sister, Karina Kinnear, had “severe brain damage” after suffering “a lack of oxygen at birth,” was left paralyzed at 19 after an operation on her spine, and had been hospitalized for sepsis and dealt with chest infections for most of her adult life. “Along with my mother’s ferocious determination to keep her alive, she defied medicine, she defied doctors, she defied prognoses, she defied the capacity of human endurance,” Rory wrote. “And she would look at you and smile as if to say: ‘Yep. I did it again.’ She was heroic and continually inspiring. In fact she had a daredevil’s spirit, forever finding joy in activities many might have shied away from.”
But the coronavirus proved to be too much for Karina to overcome. “It wasn’t her ‘underlying conditions,'” Rory continued. “Prior to her diagnosis, she hadn’t been in hospital for 18 months — an unusually care-free period for Karina.” The James Bond star stated his family said their goodbyes to Karina through an iPad held by a nurse.
COVID-19 hit UFC star Khabib Nurmagomedov's family hard
On July 3, 2020, UFC star Khabib Nurmagomedov (undefeated at the time of the writing), announced that he lost his trainer and father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, to COVID-19. “We’ve lost our backbone,” the fighter’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, told ESPN. “He was a father, coach, brother, an icon. Things will never be the same without him.”
According to Khabib’s website, his father was “one of the most famous and sought-after coaches in Russia, who brought up a huge number of titled fighters” and holds the title of “Honored Coach of Russia.” Abdulmanap began his combat sports career with freestyle wrestling in Ukraine and trained with Russian legends Peter Butriy and judoka Vladimir Nevzorov (who won the gold in the 1976 Olympics).
Two months prior, Khabib revealed his father was in a medically-induced coma, noting that President Vladimir Putin guaranteed him “the best medical treatment available” (via ESPN). Unfortunately, the then-31-year-old star also revealed that COVID-19 had decimated his family. “In my personal case, I’ve had more than 20 people sick from my family,” Khabib said at the time (via ABC News). “More than 20 people were lying in the ICUs. And many of them are no longer among us. Many acquaintances have died, many parents of my relatives. Everybody is having a hard time dealing with it.”
The coronavirus has affected several of Sharon Stone's loved ones
Actress Sharon Stone has already lost her grandmother and godmother to coronavirus, and as of August 2020, her sister, Kelly Stone, is fighting for her life (via Yahoo! News). “My sister Kelly, who already has lupus, now has COVID-19,” Sharon captioned two photos on Instagram of her sister’s hospital room, adding, “One of you Non-Mask wearers did this. She does not have an immune system. The only place she went was the pharmacy.”
In a follow-up Instagram video, Sharon expanded on her sister’s condition, saying that Kelly’s husband, Bruce Singer, was also “fighting for his life” in a coronavirus ward. The couple live in Montana, and the Basic Instinct actress harshly criticized the state’s governor for only allowing tests for people with symptoms. Also revealing that her mother was unable to get tested even though she’s had two heart attacks, five stents, and a pacemaker during the lockdown, Sharon said, “This is the state of affairs in the middle of our country, where you, the people in the middle of our country, are at great risk of dying from COVID … When they say there are tests even for the nurses in the hospitals, they are lying. People are dying and fighting for their lives because there’s nothing but lies.”
On Aug. 18, Sharon shared another Instagram video of her sister struggling to breathe in the hospital, and urged people to wear a mask: “You never, ever want to feel like this.”
Rep. Ilhan Omar lost the only parent she knew to COVID-19
On June 15, 2020, Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar announced that her father passed away from complications due to COVID-19 at the age of 67. “Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’cuun. Surely we belong to God and to Him shall we return,” Omar wrote in a statement provided by CNN. “It is with tremendous sadness and pain that I share that my father, Nur Omar Mohamed, passed away today due to complications from COVID-19.”
She added: “No words can describe what he meant to me and all who knew him. My family and I ask for your respect and privacy during this time.” According to The New York Times, Omar’s father was a teacher in Somalia before fleeing with his family (including an 8-year-old Ilhan) during the country’s civil war to a Kenyan refugee camp, where they spent four years. He and his family sought asylum in the United States and eventually settled in Minneapolis due to its large Somalian population after a short stay in Arlington, Virginia.
He was a constant presence during Omar’s campaign, and the congresswoman credits him for the advice that helped her 12-year-old self understand her violent bullies in the Virginia suburbs. “‘Listen, these people who are doing all of these things to you, they’re not doing something to you because they dislike you,'” Omar once recalled him saying. “They are doing something to you because they feel threatened in some way by your existence.”
Sebastian Telfair lost his mother and brother to coronavirus in the span of a month
In the span of a month, former NBA lottery pick Sebastian Telfair lost two family members to the coronavirus. According to the New York Post, Telfair’s brother, Dan Turner, died on March 28, 2020, at the age of 49. His mother, Erica Telfair, died on April 27, 2020, at the age of 64 after 38 days in the hospital.
“It’s been tough, but I’m just glad that they’re both not suffering anymore,” Telfair’s half-brother, Jamel Thomas, told the publication. “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’s mother, who Thomas credited for “keeping us together,” had no underlying medical conditions at the time of her death. “She never drank, smoke or anything. She never did anything,” Thomas said. “… She was just a healthy person that … enjoyed food and family.” In an Instagram Story, Telfair wrote (via the New York Post), “Let me see them X-rays. I ain’t no expert. We just hurt!”
Riz Ahmed hopes his loss makes people 'reimagine a better future'
During a WhatsApp interview with British GQ in April 2020, Nightcrawler and Rogue One actor Riz Ahmed revealed his family was touched by the novel coronavirus. “Since we spoke I have lost two family members to Covid,” he messaged the outlet. “I just want to believe their deaths and all the others aren’t for nothing.”
Although Ahmed didn’t specify which family members he lost, he said everyone needs to stop and “reimagine a better future” for one another. “We have to, right now, lay the groundwork for a more compassionate society by trying to build a more compassionate inner voice,” Ahmed said. “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 realize 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.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren will never get over how her brother died alone
On April 23, 2020, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren announced that her older brother passed. “My oldest brother, Don Reed, died from coronavirus on Tuesday evening,” the former presidential candidate wrote on Twitter, accompanied by a link to the story in the Boston Globe. “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. He was charming and funny, a natural leader.”
Warren added: “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.”
The following month, Warren wrote an article for The Atlantic, where she reflected on her brother’s time in the hospital and her inability to be with him during his final days because of safety protocols. “I called him every day for 11 days, and every day he would say, ‘I’m just fine.’ In fact, he said, ‘I think I probably had it before and I’m just too tough and didn’t even notice,'” she wrote. “And then he got sick, and then he died, by himself. That’s the hard part — really hard part. It’s hard to process things like this because everything is happening at a distance. And human beings — we’re not set up for that.” Warren added, “We’re wired to be with each other. It makes it hard.”
Michael Che paid tribute after losing his grandmother to coronavirus
On April 6, 2020, SNL‘s “Weekend Update” star Michael Che announced he’d lost his grandmother. “Last night my grandmother passed away from the coronavirus,” he wrote in a now-deleted Instagram post (via People). “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.”
The comedian also expressed his frustrations about the lack of information about COVID-19 at the time. “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**king know? I shouldn’t curse,” Che wrote. “I’m just frustrated, cause there’s so much we still don’t know about it.” He added, “I’m just not willing to accept that right now. F**K THAT. I need a better story. I know, I shouldn’t curse, but I’m grieving.”
As a tribute to his beloved grandmother, Che paid one month’s rent for all those living in her 160-unit public housing complex. “It’s crazy to me that residents of public housing are still expected to pay their rent when so many New Yorkers can’t even work,” he wrote in another deleted Instagram post (via CNN). “I know that’s just a drop in the bucket. So I really hope the city has a better plan for debt forgiveness for all the people in public housing, AT THE VERY LEAST.”
Karl Anthony-Towns donated to help others after his mother's death
Minnesota Timberwolves star center Karl-Anthony Towns lost his mother, Jacqueline Cruz-Towns, to coronavirus in April 2020. She was only 58. “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 13th,” the team’s official Twitter statement read. “Jackie was many things to many people — a wife, mother, daughter, grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend. 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.”
Less than a month before his mother passed, Towns uploaded an emotional video to Instagram informing his followers that she had been put on a ventilator in a medically-induced coma. “The disease needs not be taken lightly,” he said in part. “Please protect your families, your loved ones, your friends, yourself. Practice social distancing. Please don’t be in places with a lot of people.”
On March 15, Towns made a $100,000 donation to the Mayo Clinic to help them develop a test to detect the virus that causes COVID-19. “My hope is that we can fight this virus quicker and more efficiently by increasing the testing capabilities and availability and Mayo Clinic’s overall COVID-19 response,” Towns tweeted. In response, Dr. William Morice II, chair of the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at Mayo Clinic, said that he and the clinic were “blown away” by Towns’ donation.
Nico Santos lost his stepdad and nearly lost his mom to COVID-19
Superstore star Nico Santos almost lost his mother to the novel coronavirus, but thankfully, she recovered. Unfortunately, his stepfather wasn’t as lucky, and in a heartbreaking post on Instagram, Santos announced his passing on March 29, 2020. “My Tito Sonny passed away yesterday after losing his battle with COVID-19. He was a kind, caring man,” he wrote. “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.”
The Crazy Rich Asians actor added that the loss of his stepfather was “devastating,” noting that he felt “gutted” by not being able to be with him before he died: “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 fans for their “prayers, love, and assistance” to his family, adding, “I hope all of you are staying safe and healthy. Rest In Peace Tito Sonny. I love you.”
Holly Marie Combs blames Trump for her grandfather's death to coronavirus
On April 27, 2020, former Charmed star Holly Marie Combs revealed a devastating loss while tweeting President Donald Trump about his response to the coronavirus pandemic. “My grandfather died today. 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,” the actress wrote, replying to a Trump tweet where he claimed he never called the pandemic a hoax. “He died today from Covid-19 one day after his 66th wedding anniversary. You’re a disgrace to the human race.”
Needless to say, Combs came under fire from Trump supporters who pushed back on the TV star laying all COVID-19 deaths at the president’s feet. “Zero tolerance for Trumpers. Zero,” she tweeted in response. “Take it to someone else’s timeline. Not today Satan.” At the time of this writing, Combs hasn’t posted about her grandfather’s passing on any other social media platform or speak about him publicly.
Our thoughts are with all of the celebrities on our list and their loved ones as they heal from their tragic losses.
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