Alexa Massaro (left) with mom Ashley Massaro
Ashley Massro/ Instagram

Just 20 years old when she was pregnant, Ashley had a tight bond with her only child

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May 17, 2019 11:31 AM

Former WWE star and Survivor contestant Ashley Massaro was known for her brash public persona, but she had a soft spot: her 18-year-old daughter, Alexa Massaro.

After her mom died suddenly this week at 39 in New York, Alexa posted a tribute to her on Instagram.

Along with a photo of them together on the red carpet, Alexa wrote on her Instagram Story, “i wish i could have gotten more recent pictures.”

She added, in a rush of grief, “i love you mommy i want to wake up in your arms more than anything i want to give u a big hug please come back this cant be real.”

Ashley performed in the WWE from 2005 to 2008 after winning the WWE’s Diva Search in 2005, which resulted in a one-year, $250,000 contract. She has also worked as a TV and radio host and model.

In 2007, during her stint with the WWE, Ashley appeared on Survivor: China, the 15th season of the long-running reality show. There she battled physical illness in her first six days and was the second contestant voted out of the game.

RELATED: ‘Beloved’ WWE Star Ashley Massaro, Who Died at 39, Was ‘So Much More Than Her Image’

But friends tell PEOPLE that there was another side to her, which lit up when she talked about Alexa. Just 20 when she was pregnant, Ashley had a tight bond with her only child.

Last July, Ashley posed a picture of herself with Alexa to celebrate her daughter’s birthday.

“My little angel baby and I so long ago,” she wrote. “Her bday is in 2 weeks and she will be 18. Time flew, I could cry thinking about it but I know the closeness we share will never change no matter how old she gets.”

“I truly love her more than anything or anyone in this world!” Ashley continued. “Happy early birthday bug! You’ll always be my little girl!”

Ashley Massaro (left) with daughter Alexa
Alexa Maassaro/ Instagram

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On Wednesday, a day before her death, Ashley tweeted that she had just responded to “a ton of fanmail so you guys should be receiving them soon! Love ya punx.”

Her cause of death has not been disclosed but it is not being classified as a criminal case, according to police.

Authorities were first called to the wrestler’s home in Suffolk County and she was transported to a nearby hospital where she died on Thursday morning. An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause and manner of death, police told PEOPLE.

As authorities continue to investigate, those who knew Ashley are in mourning.

“She is so much more than her image,” Leslie Nease, a fellow Survivor contestant and friend, told PEOPLE. “After we were both voted off we spent hours in deep conversation for several days. She had a very soft and kind side. I am so thankful I was able to see that and know her that way.”

On her Instagram Story Alexa posted another photo of her and her mom, writing, “please god this cant be it.”

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