Jennifer Lopez's Late High School Sweetheart David Cruz Was 'Soft-Spoken and Kind' Says Source

"He would do anything for Jennifer," a source exclusively tells PEOPLE of David Cruz

Jennifer Lopez and David Cruz
Photo: Courtesy Photo

David Cruz — the man that Jennifer Lopez once shared a nearly decade-long relationship with — died on Saturday.

Cruz was 51 years old. He died of heart disease at Mount Sinai West Hospital in Manhattan, the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner confirmed to PEOPLE Monday.

The singer and actress, 50, and her ex-boyfriend started dating in high school, their relationship beginning when they were just teenagers. The young couple stayed together through the mid ’90s and officially called it quits just before Lopez’s iconic hit role in Selena.

A source tells PEOPLE that Cruz was truly head over heels for Lopez throughout their years-long romance and was very supportive of her rise to fame.

“They were high school sweethearts,” the source says. “He was soft-spoken and kind and he would do anything for Jennifer. You could see her trajectory early on and at the time he didn’t mind seeing her take the lead. He was completely content with that. He just loved her.”

David Cruz and <a href="" data-inlink="true">Jennifer Lopez</a>
David Cruz and Jennifer Lopez. Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty

Cruz is survived by his longtime partner Isa, whom he was in a relationship with for 18 years. She described her late love to TMZ as “kind and loving.”

“He never held on to anything and was always very open,” she told the outlet, before revealing that Cruz had stepped into her son’s life as his stepfather and ultimately helped raise him before he went off to become a serviceman. “He was a devoted father, he helped raise his stepson who is now in the Marines.”

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Cruz was a sports fan with a soft spot for New York teams. “He loved the Yankees and Knicks,” Isa said. “He loved going to the theatre with me. My favorite moment was family date night, because it wasn’t just special for me but for the kids as well. He always made sure to end things with an ‘I love you.'”

During his relationship with Lopez, Cruz accompanied the actress as her date to many high-profile events, including the Los Angeles premiere of Money Train in November 1995. Lopez starred in the film alongside Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson. At the time, the couple were living together as Cruz worked as a production assistant and Lopez as an actress, PEOPLE reported in 1995.

David Cruz and <a href="" data-inlink="true">Jennifer Lopez</a>
Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty

Cruz and Lopez also attended the premiere of My Family together hand in hand. Lopez starred as Maria in the independent film, which depicts a second-generation Mexican family.

In the years since, Lopez has been in several high profile relationships of her own. She is now engaged to former MLB star Alex Rodriguez, 44. She shares twins Emme Maribel and Max David, who turned 12 last month, with her ex-husband Marc Anthony, 51. Lopez has not commented on Cruz’s death.

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