The two first met when they were 12

By Alexia Fernandez
July 08, 2019 07:26 PM
Vinnie Jones and wife Tanya Jones
Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

Actor and former soccer player Vinnie Jones’s wife Tanya has died. She was 53.

Tanya died in the couple’s home in Los Angeles after “a long illness,” a rep for Jones told The Independent in a statement.

A rep for Jones did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

“At 8:46 am local time in Los Angeles on Saturday, July 6, Vinnie Jones’s wife, Tanya Jones, passed away after a long illness,” the statement read. “Tanya passed peacefully at the Jones family home surrounded by Vinnie, their daughter and other family members.”

The statement continued, “Vinnie and the family ask for privacy while they go through an understandable period of mourning during this devastating time.”

The couple married in 1994 and had one child together, son Aaron Elliston Jones, 28. Tanya is also survived by her daughter, Kaley Terry, 32, from her former husband Steve Terry.

The actor received several condolences on social media, including from former boxer Frank Bruno tweeted his condolences, writing, “I’m very saddened to hear the news of Vinnie Jones wife Tanya passing away. My thoughts are with Vinnie & his family at this difficult time.”

Sports reporter Ian “Moose” Abrahams tweeted, “Thoughts and wishes today with Vinny [sic] Jones after the death of his wife Tanya at the age of 53. The pair had been married for 25 years.”

Jones and his wife first met when they were 12.

“We had a brief date when we were 16, then she went her way and I went my way,” he told The Guardian in 2012. “I was away in Leeds, then I came back and signed with Chelsea. I had two of the football lads living with me and one of them looked out the window and said, ‘Wahey, look at this!'”

He continued, “Tanya was rollerskating outside and I went, ‘Oh my God! I can’t believe it!’ She was just getting divorced, so it was all meant to be. Do I believe in fate? It’s all very spooky. I was living in Leeds, then Sheffield, then moved back into my house after four or five years and she was living next-door-but-one. That’s got to be something.”

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Jones added Tanya’s “heart collapsed when she gave birth to Kaley.”

“She had to have an emergency heart transplant,” he said. “We’d been together for two years when I went to her dad and said I wanted to marry her and he said, ‘You know what you’re taking on?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I do know and I’m going to take care of her and look after her.'”

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He added, “I feel she was saved to save me, and I was meant to look after her.”

Despite her health problems, that didn’t stop the duo from living their lives to the fullest.

“We’ve tried to live a normal life, and sometimes if we overdo it we think, ‘Ooh, we’ve got to steady up,'” he said. “But we don’t wrap her up in cotton wool. We haven’t got time to think about ‘what if’ and ‘what about.’ We make the most of life.”

He added, “We’ve been through a lot, so I just want her to enjoy life and for us to grow old together.”

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