Kevin McHale, in a game last October (Getty Images)
Just one week and a half into the NBA's 2012-13 season, Rockets coach Kevin McHale took leave of his crew on Nov. 10 to attend to what the team at the time called a personal family matter. A few weeks later, we've learned the sad truth of what forced the Basketball Hall of Famer to step away from the group he's coached since 2011.
McHale's daughter, Alexandra ''Sasha'' McHale, passed away at age 23 on Saturday. The team did not announce the reason behind her untimely passing, but longtime Houston Chronicle beat writer Jonathan Feigen is reporting that Sasha McHale had long been suffering from lupus, and was hospitalized recently with a condition unfortunately spurred on by the autoimmune disease.
Rockets owner Leslie Alexander released a statement on Sunday concerning this terrible turn of events:
"I extend my deepest condolences to Kevin and Lynn for the loss of their beautiful daughter, Sasha, on Saturday afternoon. 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, understandably, did not release a timetable or even confirmation concerning McHale's possible return to Houston. The Rocket coach's daughter passed away in Minnesota — Kevin McHale was raised in the area, played at the University of Minnesota, and returned to the NBA in 1995 after retirement from the Boston Celtics as a longtime executive and eventual coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
If you'd like to make a donation to the Lupus Foundation of America in Sasha McHale's name, here is a link to consider.
All of Yahoo! Sports' thoughts are with the McHale family as they attempt to work through this.
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