Queen Latifah and mother Rita Owens. Picture: Instagram

Queen Latifah's mother has died.

The 48-year-old rapper-and-actress had been caring for Rita Owens throughout her battle with heart failure since she was diagnosed in 2004, and has paid a touching tribute to her parent who she described as "the love of her life".

In a statement shared with E! News on Wednesday, March 21, she said: "It is with a heavy heart that I share the news my mother, Rita Owens passed away today. Anyone that has ever met her knows what a bright light she was on this earth.

"She was gentle, but strong, sweet, but sassy, worldy but pragmatic, a woman of great faith and certainly the love of my life.

"She had struggled with a heart condition for many years and her battle is now over. I am heart broken but know she is at peace. Thank you for your kindness, support and respect for our privacy at this time."

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Speaking in September, Latifah said she'd learned to care "so much more" since looking after her parent.

The 'Girls Trip' star said her strength throughout her problems had given her "hope for life and the world".

She said: "I just love her so much more, I respect her so much more, and she just really gives me hope. She gives me hope for life and the world."

And the 'Star' actress - who worked with American Heart Association charity on their 'What The HF?' project, which encourages people to spot the early signs of heart failure - has "learned how much you can love a person" through caring for her mother, and is amazed by how she manages to "bounce back".

She added: "I've just learned how much you can love a person, and just how strong my mom is. I've come to respect her in ways you just can't even imagine. I've watched her come through so many things, ups and downs, hospitalisation, you know, really being in ... in ICU, for that matter. 

"You know, going through tough times. And watching her come back, and bounce back, and still maintain this sense of humour and love and drive and will."

Bang Showbiz