Queen Latifah has suffered a devastating loss.

On Wednesday, Latifah’s mother, Rita Owens, passed away from a heart condition that she had been battling for more than a decade.

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

Latifah often spoke fondly of her mother and has said she is the strongest woman she knows.

“My Mom has always been my champion. She was very smart and grounded. She said, ‘Save your money. Pay your taxes. Don’t put everything in one basket,’ but she let me explore and be creative,” she said about her mom.


“She had struggled with a heart condition for many years and her battle is now over,” Latifah shared with PEOPLE. “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.”

In 2016, Latifah and Owens starred in an American Heart Association campaign to raise awareness about heart failure.