Queen Latifah Mourns Death Of Beloved Mother: She Was ‘The Love Of My Life’

Mar. 22 2018, Updated 1:50 p.m. ET

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Queen Latifah’s beloved mother has died after more than ten years of battling a debilitating heart condition.

“It is with a heavy heart that I share the news my mother, Rita Owens, passed away today,” the actress said in a statement to PEOPLE. “Anyone that has ever met her knows what a bright light she was on this earth. She was gentle, but strong, sweet, but sassy, worldly but pragmatic, a woman of great faith and certainly the love of my life.”

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“She had struggled with a heart condition for many years and her battle is now over,” Latifah, 48, continued. “I am heartbroken but know she is at peace. Thank you for your kindness, support and respect for our privacy at this time. Much Love, Dana Owens (aka Queen Latif‎ah), forever Rita Owens’ daughter.”

The Chicago star took to Instagram to share a beautiful photo collage of her stunning mother, captioning the post “143” which means “I love you.”

RadarOnline.com has learned that Latifah previously spoke about Owens’ health struggles.

“I’ve just learned how much you can love a person and just how strong my mother is,” she told PEOPLE before her mom’s passing. “I’ve come to respect her in ways you can’t even imagine.”

She admitted that Owens had been going from hospital bed to hospital bed for years, and she had only grown stronger.

“I just love her so much more, I respect her so much more. She really just gives me hope for life and the world,” Latifah said about her adoring mother. “Family is the most important thing.”

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