Towns was born in Edison, New Jersey to an African-American father, Karl Towns Sr., and a Dominican mother, Jacqueline Cruz. Towns’s father played basketball for Monmouth University and coached basketball at Piscataway Technical High School. Towns attended Lake Nelson Seventh-Day Adventist School before transferring to Theodore Schor Middle School in 2009.
Towns was selected at the age of 16 to play on the Dominican Republic national basketball team. In December 2012, Towns announced that he was going to reclassify as a senior and commit to play for the Kentucky Wildcats. Towns was named the 2014 Gatorade Player of the Year at St. Joseph High School. ESPN ranked Towns as the top prospect in the 2015 recruiting class.
Towns was named a second-team All-American by the Associated Press and NABC. Towns and fellow Kentucky teammates Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Dakari Johnson, Devin Booker, Trey Lyles and Willie Cauley-Stein all declared for the 2015 NBA draft. Towns hopes to become a doctor after his basketball career.
Towns was selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the first overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft. He made his NBA debut in the Timberwolves’ season opener against the Los Angeles Lakers on October 28, recording 14 points and 12 rebounds as a starter in a 112–111 win. Towns earned Western Conference Rookie of the Month honors in each of the season’s six months, becoming the first Timberwolves player to do so. Towns played and started in all 82 games for the Timberwolves in 2015–16, averaging 18.3 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. He won the 2016 NBA All-Star Weekend Skills Challenge over point guard Isaiah Thomas.
On November 30, 2016, Towns recorded a then career-high 47 points and 18 rebounds in a 106–104 loss to the New York Knicks. On December 28, he recorded his first career triple-double with 15 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. On March 8, 2017, he had his 100th career double-double in a 107–91 win over the Los Angeles Clippers. In April, he set a franchise record for points in a season with 26 against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
He was named to his first All-Star team on January 23, 2018. On January 5, 2018, he recorded 25 points and a then career-high 23 rebounds in a 91–84 loss to the Boston Celtics. Towns finished in the top 10 in almost every statistical category in NBA history compiled prior to the player’s 22nd birthday. On March 28, 2018, he scored a franchise-record 56 points and added 15 rebounds for his league-leading 63rd double-double. The 56 points surpassed Mo Williams’ franchise record of 52 points set on January 13, 2015, against the Indiana Pacers. He also became the youngest player with 50 points and 15 rebounds in a game since Shaquille O’Neal (22 years, 45 days) on April 20, 1994 against the Timberwolves.
On September 23, 2018, Karl-Anthony Towns signed a five-year, $190 million super-maximum extension with the Minnesota Timberwolves. On January 12, 2019, he recorded 27 points and a career-high 27 rebounds in a 110–106 win over the New Orleans Pelicans. On March 5, he had 41 points and 14 rebounds to pass Wally Szczerbiak (6,777 points) into fifth place on Minnesota’s career scoring list. He had registered 303 consecutive starts, the longest to begin a career since 1970–71.
On October 23, 2019, he became the first player in NBA history to reach 8,000 points, 4,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists in 360 games or less. He joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tim Duncan, Elgin Baylor and David Robinson as the only players to do so in 360 or less games. In mid-January 2021, Towns missed 13 games due to injury and missed 13 of the next 14 contests.
On January 9, 2022, Towns scored a then season-high 40 points, along with nine rebounds and seven assists, in a 141–123 victory over the Houston Rockets. On February 19, Towns won the Mountain Dew NBA Three-Point contest in Cleveland, defeating Luke Kennard and Trae Young in the final round. On March 5, a 138–101 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, Towns recorded 36 points, 15 rebounds, five assists, three blocks, and zero turnovers.