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Queen Latifah’s Mother Dies After Battling Heart Condition

The Hollywood star opened up to AARP about being her mom’s caregiver

spinner image Queen Latifah and mother Rita Owens 1991
Rita Owens alongside her daughter, Queen Latifah, in 1991.
Ron Galella/Getty Images

The mother of celebrity Queen Latifah died Wednesday, more than a decade after she was diagnosed with heart failure.

“It is with a heavy heart that I share the news my mother, Rita Owens, passed away,” said Latifah in a statement to People magazine. “She had struggled with a heart condition for many years, and her battle is now over. … 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.”

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In 2016, the actress and musician sat down with AARP to talk about her role as a family caregiver. She told us her mother inspired her because she was "so positive and strong, and I've seen her come through some really, really challenging moments. She never ceases to amaze me."

To see how caregiving is transforming, check out AARP’s caregiving and technology series.

Latifah explained that her caregiving role came on suddenly, in the mid-2000s, when her mother, a high school teacher, suddenly passed out while at school. She was eventually diagnosed with heart failure. Through care, treatment, a defibrillator implant, medication and a proper diet, she was able to manage the condition for many years. While she initially moved to Los Angeles, where Latifah could better care for her, Owens eventually moved back to New Jersey. But Latifah was still “the general,” as she was nicknamed, leading a team of family members, close friends and health care providers who supported her mother.

“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 said Wednesday.

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