Former England footballer Rio Ferdinand has paid a heartfelt tribute to his mother Janice St Fort, two days after the family released a statement announcing her death. Rio’s mother sadly passed away on Thursday, aged 58, following a battle with cancer. Her husband Peter and her four children were her bedside. Rio, whose wife Rebecca died in May 2015, posted a loving message to his mum on his Instagram page on Saturday. Fans rushed to support the heartbroken star, with many leaving messages of condolence.
Rio titled his message ‘Mummy’ and it read: “It won't ever be enough but I just want to say thanks, a really big thank you. The ability you had to make me feel loved at every moment in my life without even having to say it or be there by my side will never be forgotten. You were a fighter, a little fighter but with a huge heart. And you wore that heart on your sleeve throughout.”
Rio said of his mum: “You were fiery, you were protective, you was soft & hard faced when need be... you loved hard, you disciplined me, you were a grafter & you were my everything. I sit here now thinking & the only negative I can think of is that you talked for too long on the phone!!” He went on to say that Janice was his “shining light” and thanked his mum for being a wonderful grandma at his “most difficult time”. Rio wrote: “You are the most selfless & giving person I have ever known which came from a genuine place of love.” He signed off writing: “Love you mummy, Rio x.”
READ: Rio Ferdinand opens up about death of wife Rebecca in new book
The star’s fans offered words of support, with one posting: “You are never alone Rio Ferdinand #sorryforyourloss.” Another fan wrote: “Aww Rio such lovely words for your mum! She would have been super proud of you! Thinking of u all.” One fan told Rio: “Losing your wife n now your Mum to same illness, chin up @rioferdy5 top geezer n top dad.” There were more messages of condolence, with one follower saying: “Oh my Rio by hear breaks for you and such beautiful words to your lovely mum.”
Rio's girlfriend Kate Wright
Just one day earlier, Rio’s girlfriend Kate Wright paid tribute to Janice on her Instagram page. The 26-year-old former TOWIE star shared a photo message on her Instagram account on Thursday evening, which read: "Always loved, never forgotten, forever missed." Alongside the image, Kate simply wrote: "She's royal."
The sad news comes just two years after Rio's wife Rebecca died of the same disease in May 2015. Rebecca left behind three young children with her husband – Lorenz, Tia and Tate. The retired footballer recently starred in a BBC One documentary, Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum and Dad, which showed Rio adapting to life as a single dad. His mother Janice featured on the show, and was seen helping out with her three young grandchildren.
Rio with his wife Rebecca who sadly died in 2015