Alexandra “Sasha” McHale, the 23-year old daughter of Kevin McHale, the Houston Rockets head coach and Naismith Hall of Fame member, passed away Saturday from complications of Lupus, a chronic inflammatory disease that can affect various parts of the body, especially the skin, joints, blood, and kidneys. Ms. McHale had been hospitalized in Minneapolis on Nov. 10, prompting her father to request a leave of absence from his coaching duties with the Rockets, with assistant coach Kelvin Sampson stepping in as interim head coach.
McHale, a student in the liberal arts school at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and one of five children of Kevin and Lynn McHale, became sick during a study abroad trip to Australia in 2011, and had to take a leave of absence from finishing her studies to deal with the sudden diagnosis of Lupus.
Leslie Alexander, owner of the Rockets, released a statement on Sunday:
“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.”
The senior McHale grew up in Minnesota and was Mr. Basketball there in the late 70s, he played his college hoops at the University of Minnesota and after his playing days with the Boston Celtics were over, was hired by Glen Taylor, owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves, to be their television analyst and special assistant. Over the years with the T-Wolves his responsibilities grew to that of General Manager and eventually he was named head coach of the club. Taylor published a statement regarding Sasha McHale on Sunday:
“On behalf of the entire Minnesota Timberwolves organization, we are extremely saddened to learn about the passing of Sasha. While Kevin was with our organization, we all watched Sasha grow up, and become an outstanding young woman. She will be sorely missed by her family and friends. Our thoughts and prayers are with Kevin, Lynn and the entire McHale family.”
Sasha McHale was a three-year varsity player on the Totino-Grace Catholic High School basketball squad, a school in a northern suburb of Minneapolis. She was an aggressive forward that helped her team win the Minnesota Class AAA State Championship in 2008. That season she was voted honorable mention All-State. While she wasn’t quite as tall as her father (6’10”), she did stand 6’0″ and led her team in blocked shots. While playing for the Eagles, she wore #32, the same number her father wore with the Celtics.