Kelly Preston's life, career and legacy is honored in this week's issue of PEOPLE

By Alexia Fernandez
July 14, 2020 08:02 AM

Despite having a successful career in Hollywood and a famous husband, Kelly Preston lived for the simple pleasures in life: spending quality time with her family.

"I experience bliss a lot, and it’s always when I’m with my kids and husband and we’re all together alone," Preston told PEOPLE in 2018 of enjoying time with husband John Travolta and their two children, Ella Bleu, 20, and Benjamin, 9. "As a family it doesn’t get better than that."

The actress, who died from breast cancer at the age of 57, is celebrated on the cover of this week's PEOPLE as a loving wife and mother, a talented actress and loyal friend.

Kelly Preston
Ray Kachatorian

Travolta, her husband of almost 29 years, shared the devastating news with a heartfelt post on Instagram.

"It is with a very heavy heart that I inform you that my beautiful wife Kelly has lost her two-year battle with breast cancer. She fought a courageous fight with the love and support of so many," he wrote.

"My family and I will forever be grateful to her doctors and nurses at MD Anderson Cancer Center, all the medical centers that have helped, as well as her many friends and loved ones who have been by her side. Kelly's love and life will always be remembered," Travolta, 66, continued.

  • For more about Kelly Preston, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

The couple, who married in September 1991, had three children together: oldest son, Jett, who died at age 16 in January 2009, daughter Ella and son Ben.

Preston, who juggled her busy career -- including memorable roles in Twins, Jerry Maguire and For the Love of the Game, told PEOPLE in 2013 that motherhood was a constant source of inspiration for her.

"What surprised me the most about becoming a mom was how much love you can have inside you, and feel, and just be inspired by them every single day," she said.

On Sunday, daughter Ella celebrated her mother's love.

"I have never met anyone as courageous, strong, beautiful and loving as you," Ella wrote of Preston on Instagram. "Anyone who is lucky enough to have known you or to have ever been in your presence will agree that you have a glow and a light that never ceases to shine and that makes anyone around you feel instantly happy."

Preston is also remembered fondly for her acting talents. Jerry Maguire writer/director Cameron Crowe said the actress "was one of the best-kept acting secrets in movies" when she was cast to play Jerry Maguire's feisty fiancée Avery Bishop.

"The part was a former Olympic-level athlete turned NFL publicist," said Crowe. "She worked out relentlessly to prepare, learned about NFL publicity, and when she stepped on the set, she was easily as formidable a presence as Jerry Maguire. She was ferocious and funny and was always ready to go again… and again. She was also mighty poetic. The scene where she and Jerry Maguire cross paths in the airport is one of my very favorites — check it out sometime to see how fully Kelly Preston inhabited Avery. Her silent moments are as good as the flashy stuff."

A family representative told PEOPLE exclusively of Preston's death on Sunday.

"Choosing to keep her fight private, she had been undergoing medical treatment for some time, supported by her closest family and friends," the family rep said. "She was a bright, beautiful and loving soul who cared deeply about others and who brought life to everything she touched. Her family asks for your understanding of their need for privacy at this time."