Star actress Queen Latifah is sadly mourning the loss of one of the stars of her own life: her mother, Rita Owens. The 48-year-old announced her mom’s death yesterday, Wednesday, March 21. “It is with a heavy heart that I share the news my mother, Rita Owens, passed away,” she 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.”

She added, “I am heartbroken but know she is at peace. Much love, Dana Owens (aka Queen Latifah), forever Rita Owens’ daughter.” Scroll down for more details on Rita and her famous daughter.

How did Queen Latifah’s mom die?

In her statement, Queen Latifah explained that her mother “struggled with a heart condition for many years and her battle is now over.” In a 2015 interview, the rapper-turned-actress shared that her mother was living with heart failure and a lung condition, the former of which they found out about in 2004 after Rita passed out while teaching art at a New Jersey high school.

“My mom is stronger than anyone I’ve ever known,” Queen Latifah once said in an American Heart Association PSA. “Growing up, when life got hard, her strength helped pull us through. Even after her heart failure diagnosis, she remains stronger than ever.”

How old was Rita Owens?

According to, Rita was 69 at the time of her death. Queen Latifah had been living part-time with her mom in New Jersey and sharing the work of Rita’s caregivers, she told People in 2015. “I will do whatever I can to make sure my mom is comfortable and has whatever she needs,” she said. “We’ve learned a new us. We’ve gotten a lot closer and we’ve learned each other on a whole different, deeper level.”

Does Queen Latifah have kids?

While Queen Latifah isn’t a parent at the moment, she’s been thinking about starting a family for some time now. “I’m always thinking about [becoming a mother]. Hopefully one day it will be my blessing. Being a mom is probably the most unselfish thing you can do,” she exclusively told Closer Weekly in 2015. When then asked if she’d prefer to have a little prince or princess, the actress replied, “It doesn’t matter to me. I just really want to be there for them through adulthood and for the rest of their lives.”

A year later, Queen Latifah again opened up about wanting to become a mom. “I’m a little bit of a procrastinator. I had some things to deal with. I had to get a lot of partying out of my system early in life for about 40 years, you know what I’m saying? I’m good now. I think I’m ready,” she said in 2016. “Maybe I’ll adopt a child that’s not necessarily a baby. There are a lot of kids that need love out there.”

Does Queen Latifah have siblings?

Sadly, Rita’s death isn’t the first heartbreak in Queen Latifah’s life. She also lost a brother in 1993. Like their father, Lance Owens was a police officer in East Orange, NJ, but he died at age 23 in a motorcycle accident. We know Queen Latifah has at least two other siblings, though, because her brother Angelo Owens and sister Raven Owens attended her Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony in 2006. Our thoughts are with the entire Owens family during this difficult time.