Kansas Jayhawks forward KJ Adams’ mother, Yvonne Adams, dies after battling cancer

Evert Nelson/The Capital-Journal/USA TODAY NETWORK

Yvonne Adams, the mother of University of Kansas junior men’s basketball forward KJ Adams, has died after a brave fight against cancer the past two years.

KJ Adams, a native of Austin, Texas, posted on Instagram Friday night: “I love you mama. You can rest now.”

KU coach Bill Self commented on Yvonne Adams’ passing Saturday through the basketball program’s X social media account.

“Kansas lost one of its best fans with the passing of Yvonne Adams,” Self said in the statement. “She was great basketball player at Texas A&M and her passion and talent for the game definitely resonated down to KJ. She was so proud of KJ and the entire Kansas basketball program. We all knew Yvonne fought cancer for quite some time, but she still kept in close contact with our team. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire family.”

Self’s statement did not address when Adams will rejoin the team. The Jayhawks open the Maui Invitational on Monday against Chaminade in Honolulu.

Adams’ mother was diagnosed with stage one bladder cancer in August 2021 before KJ’s freshman year at KU. After receiving treatment, she was given the all-clear. But the cancer returned in summer 2022 with a stage four diagnosis.

Adams’ mom was able to attend the Oct. 6 Late Night in the Phog event. She also attended games whenever she could. For instance, she traveled to KU’s games at Missouri and Baylor last year. In fact Kevin and Yvonne attended all but a handful of KJ’s games during his freshman and sophomore seasons at KU.

KJ last summer pledged $2,000 of his own money to event organizer Brian Hanni at the 15th annual Rock Chalk Roundball Classic awards banquet. The money went to families in the area who are battling cancer.

Adams said at the time: “Always give back. It hit in my heart a little bit because my mom is kind of going through the same stuff the kids (beneficiaries of banquet) are going through. Just to give back — and now that we have the stuff to give back (through NIL) — it’s always good to do that. It helps me a lot when I do that. I just wanted to see the kids happy and not stressed a lot because they already have a lot of stress on their mind.”

Adams’ mom was a former standout basketball player at Texas A&M. She led the Aggies in scoring in 1989-90 and 1990-91. She worked as director of equity and inclusion at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in Austin.

“Mrs. Adams was one of the best people I’ve ever met and was KJ’s biggest fan. Did so much for us when I was his roommate. Very grateful I was able to spend time with their family. Rest easy Momma,” former KU wing Christian Braun of the Denver Nuggets wrote Friday on Twitter.

Wrote Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News: “That KJ Adams could go to Chicago and play that hard (16 points in Champions Classic win over Kentucky) and that focused given the circumstances should demonstrate to everyone what an extraordinary competitor and young man he is.”

Wrote ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla on Twitter: “Very sad to hear that @KUHoops KJ Adam’s’ mother, Yvonne, has succumbed to cancer. She was a huge inspiration to everyone who knew her. Keep the Adams family in your prayers tonight.”

Of her battle with cancer, Yvonne told the Austin American-Statesman in February: ““Because we’re a close-knit family, it’s made the fight easier. It’s been tough, but not anything insurmountable.”

Adams’ sister, Brittany, is a former all-conference volleyball player at SMU. Sister Jaila is a high school basketball and volleyball player in Austin. KJ’s dad, Kevin, played football at New Mexico.

Commenting to his hometown newspaper in February of his sophomore season, KJ said: “It drove me even harder, knowing she’s fighting something that serious. It makes basketball not that important as people make it. That three-game losing streak we had, I was (upset). But coach (Bill) Self said we have people struggling for their lives, working 9-to-5s, having real life problems, and y’all are upset about losing three games.”

Of KJ, Yvonne told the American Statesman; “I think he definitely got some of his hops from me. And strong hands run in Kevin’s family.”

The Star’s Shreyas Laddha contributed to the report.