Queen Latifah's Mother Dies: All the Sweetest Things the Star Has Said About Her
‘My Mama Is Gangsta’
Queen Latifah's parents divorced when she was a young girl, leaving Owens to raise her children on her own while juggling several jobs. "My mama is a gangsta… you know?… I mean, it takes a lot of character to do — to accomplish all those things,” Latifah told ABC News. “I always used to wish that if I was ever half the woman that my mother is that I would be all right. You know? Because my mom is amazing to me."
Getting Closer After a Heartbreaking Diagnosis
Latifah opened up about her mother’s health struggles to PEOPLE in 2014 after Rita Owens had been diagnosed with Scleroderma, an autoimmune disease that may cause scar tissue to build up in the lungs. “I love that lady,” the actress said about her mother. “We’ve gotten so close this year, with everything we’ve been going through.” When her brother Lance died when she was 9, Latifah said the loss brought them closer together. “We always end the night with a prayer,” she said. “It allows us to take the tension away and decompress.”
'We've Learned a New Us'
Speaking to PEOPLE in 2015, Latifah said her mother’s heart failure diagnosis allowed both of them to rise above their differences. “We’ve learned a new us,” she said. “We’ve gotten a lot closer and we’ve learned each other on a whole different, deeper level.” Latifah added, "I will do whatever I can to make sure my mom is comfortable and has whatever she needs."
Caregiving for Her Mother
Latifah became her mother’s caregiver and revealed to PEOPLE in 2015 that when she wasn’t in California, she stayed at her mother’s house in New Jersey. “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.”
During a sit-down interview with PEOPLE Now in 2017, the Girl’s Trip actress spoke out about her mother’s heart failure diagnosis saying, “I’ve just learned how much you can love a person and just how strong my mother is.” She added, “I’ve come to respect her in ways you can’t even imagine. I just love her so much more, I respect her so much more. She really just gives me hope for life and the world.”
Her Greatest Inspiration
In 2014, Latifah shared a special video in honor of her mother on The Queen Latifah Show. “My mother is my greatest inspiration, my best friend, the person who made me who I am today. From the beginning, she was determined to give us a better life. To this day, whenever I decide I’m going to try something new, my mom is the one in my corner encouraging me to take the leap."
Mother's Day Tribute
The two appeared on a Mother’s Day PSA for the American Heart Association in 2016. Latifah lauded her mother for her strength and poise. “I can’t imagine life without my mom. My mom is the strongest person I know and she’s committed to rising about heart failure. She has inspired me and everyone around her.”