HOUSTON - The Houston Rockets have confirmed that Coach Kevin McHale's daughter, Alexandra "Sasha" McHale, 23, passed away on Saturday afternoon.
McHale took a leave of absence from the team on Nov. 10 to be with his family in Minnesota, the organization said in a press release.
"I extend my deepest condolences to Kevin and Lynn for the loss of their beautiful daughter, Sasha, on Saturday afternoon," Leslie Alexander, owner of Houston Rockets, said in a released statement on Sunday. "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."
Assistant coach Kelvin Sampson has been handling the head coaching duties in McHale’s absence.
"It should be a law of life that parents should not have to bury their children," Sampson said in an interview Sunday at practice.
The team talked about what McHale and his family were going through just before practice.
"It is a little emotional for everybody just because obviously we care about coach a lot..." Jeremy Lin, Rockets guard. "...We were all praying him, her and the family."
As news of McHale's loss spread Sunday morning, players, former colleagues and the NBA community offered their support and condolences to the coach and his family.
Rockets guard James Harden tweeted Sunday morning that he was "praying for Coach McHale and his family."
The Boston Celtics also tweeted their support for the McHale family on Sunday.
"The Celtics organization extends its deepest condolences to Kevin McHale and his family on the loss of his daughter," the organization said through their Twitter account.
McHale played power forward for the Celtics from 1980-93 winning three championships along with fellow Hall-of-Famers Larry Bird and Robert Parish.
The Minnesota Timberwolves also offered their support for McHale, who worked as part of the team's front office from 1994-2009.
"While Kevin was with our organization, we all watched Sasha grow up, and become an outstanding young woman," Glen Taylor, owner of the Timberwolves, said Sunday in a statement. "She will be sorely missed by her family and friends. Our thoughts and prayers are with Kevin, Lynn and the entire McHale family."