Queen Latifah’s mother, Rita Owens, dies after battling heart failure

After more than a decade of battling heart failure, Rita Owens, the mother of actress, rapper and singer Queen Latifah, has died.

Latifah issued a statement Wednesday confirming the news to Essence.

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“It is with a heavy heart that I share the news my mother, Rita Owens passed away today,” the statement said. “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.”

“She had struggled with a heart condition for many years and her battle is now over. I am heart broken 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.”

People reported that Latifah shared an Instagram post of her mother Wednesday night. 

“143,” she captioned the post. The numbers mean “I love you.”

143

A post shared by Queen Latifah (@queenlatifah) on

Heart failure, according to the American Heart Association, is a chronic, progressive condition that “occurs when the heart muscle is weakened and cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs for blood and oxygen.”

Owens was diagnosed with the condition in 2004 after passing out while teaching at a New Jersey high school.

In 2015, Latifah opened up to People about caring for her mother’s heart failure. 

“We’ve learned a new us,” Latifah said at the time. “We’ve gotten a lot closer and we’ve learned each other on a whole different, deeper level.”

“As a caregiver – it’s just like being a parent, like some things really don’t matter,” Latifah said. “All the kind of frivolous things sort of fall to the side because there’s something way more important than all that. And when we go through these things together as a family, I realize, these are the important things, these are the important moments.”

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