“It is with a heavy heart that I share the news my mother, Rita Owens passed away today,” Queen Latifah said in a statement to PEOPLE.
On Wednesday (March 21), the rapper and actress’ mother ended her battle with heart failure — a condition where the heart cannot efficiently pump blood throughout the body — following over a decade of fighting. After being diagnosed with the condition around 2004, proper medicine, a low sodium diet and a defibrillator implant allowed her more time on Earth.
Latifah says that she is “heartbroken” but finds comfort in knowing that the person who gave her “hope for life and the world” is finally resting.
“Anyone that has ever met her knows what a bright light she was on this earth. She was gentle, but strong, sweet, but sassy, worldy but pragmatic, a woman of great faith and certainly the love of my life,” Latifah continued in her statement. “She had struggled with a heart condition for many years and her battle is now over.”
The Living Single star — who resided in her mom’s New Jersey home part time, sharing caregiving responsibilities with nurses and other family members — went on to thank fans, supporters and the like for their “kindness, support and respect for [their] privacy at this time.”
“Much Love, Dana Owens (aka Queen Latifah), forever Rita Owens’ daughter,” she concluded.
On the night of her mom’s passing, Latifah shared a video of a photograph of her and the late Rita Owens. She captioned the short clip, “143.” Subsequently, fans and followers flooded the artist with love, understanding and the sincerest well-wishes, filling the comment section of the post with heart and praying emojis.
“Prayers for you and your entire family. God Blessed you with her to raise a beautiful talented woman, and now her work on earth is done,” wrote a fan on Instagram. “She will forever be in your spirit your soul your everyday life. Thank you for sharing that beautiful infectious smile woman..God Bless You.” Another wrote, “Sending my prayers your way. God Bless.”
Never forget that @IAMQUEENLATIFAH's real mom, Rita Owens, played Khadijah's mom in Living Single. Owens died today after a long battle with a heart condition.
Rest In Peace Rita Owens—a New Jersey legend. pic.twitter.com/OSeP6SOjGP
— t’challa back girl (@keaux_) March 22, 2018
“A mothers love…. such a beautiful bond. My mother is the love of my life….. so i know this pain is so deeply rooted,” a user posted. “Day by Day you shall continue to be the legacy of your beautiful ma, as her DNA flows thru you, & her spirit shines on you.”
“May God comfort you,” one fan said.
Rita the Great
Rita Owens was a teacher by profession but played minor roles in The Cookout and The Cookout 2. More notably, she played Khadijah’s mom on the ’90s sitcom Living Single. According to her second-born though, she played no role better than the role of mom.
“I watched her come through so many things, ups and downs, hospitalizations – I mean really being in the ICU for that matter – you know, going through tough times and watching her come back and bounce back and still maintain this sense of humor, and love and drive and will,” Latifah said of Owens a few years back. “I just love her so much more, I respect her so much more. She really just gives me hope for life and the world.”
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