'At my most difficult time, you were my shining light': Rio Ferdinand pays tribute to his 'little fighter' mother who died aged 58 after nursing her heartbroken son through his wife's cancer death
- Janice St Fort, mother of Rio Ferdinand, died aged 58 after a battle with cancer
- Rio posted photo of himself in Manchester United tracksuit with arm around her
- Footballer's half-sister, Sian St Fort, posted poignant Instagram tribute photo
- Gary Lineker, Sol Campbell and England team lead the world of football tributes
- Mrs St Fort died at Guy's Hospital on Thursday with her family around her
- Tragic news for Rio comes just two years after losing his wife Rebecca to disease
Rio Ferdinand has released a heart-wrenching tribute to his mother who gave 'all of her life' to him and his siblings.
The former footballer posted a photo of himself wearing a Manchester United tracksuit with his arm around his mother, Janice St Fort, who lost her battle with breast cancer on Thursday.
Mrs St Fort died in hospital surrounded by her family at the age of 58, just two years after Rio lost his wife Rebecca to the disease.
Rio Ferdinand posted a photo of himself in a Manchester United tracksuit with his arm around his mother Janice St Fort, who lost her battle with breast cancer on Thursday
Rio captioned the photograph with a heartfelt 'thank you' post about how his mother had meant 'everything' to him and how proud she was of her children.
He wrote: '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.
'All I ever wanted in life from as young as I can remember was to make you proud and I know I must of got somewhere near to doing that.... because your chest was puffed out as big as anyone's whenever my name was mentioned or when you was in a stadium watching me play... I can just hear/see you now "what did you say, oh ok...that's my son...!!!"
Mrs St Fort was credited with helping her son through the tragic loss of his wife two years ago.
Yesterday Sian St Fort posted a photo of her late mother holding her as a toddler. It was captioned 'I cannot thank you enough, be more proud & honoured to of shared 24 years with your guidance, care & love'
Rio added: '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!!
'You gave all of your life to make sure everything was ok for myself, my brothers, sister, your grandchildren & husband Peter (never mind the countless friends & family too).
'At my most difficult time, you were my shining light & made it your mission to be there for me & my kids... trust me that will never forgotten. From school runs to homework to making them smile... to starting horse riding lessons....they will always remember.
'You are the most selfless & giving person I have ever known which came from a genuine place of love.'
Yesterday Rio's half-sister lead the moving tributes to their 'supermum'. Sian St Fort, posted a series of poignant Instagram photos in tribute to her late mother and her family.
After splitting with Rio's father, his mother married Peter St Fort, with whom she had a daughter, Sian (pictured with Rio) and a son, Jeremiah
Another photo showed Sian (second from right) posing with her half-brothers (far left and right), brother, father and mother (centre) with the caption 'my forever squad'
Next to one post showing Mrs St Fort holding Sian as a toddler she wrote: 'Today at 1:35pm my beautiful Mummy left this world to be a star in the sky.
'I cannot thank you enough, be more proud & honoured to of shared 24 years with your guidance, care & love.
'You have taught me so much mum, I will forever be grateful & will continue to make you proud. I love you so so much Mummy. Until I see you again, good night!'
Other photos, posted earlier in the year, how close the family are.
One picture showed Sian posing with her half-brothers, brother, father and mother with the words 'my forever squad'.
A photo of Sian beside her footballer half-brother was captioned simply 'unbreakable bond'.
Footballer Rio Ferdinand (left) has been left heartbroken after the death of his 'devoted' mother (right) from cancer - just two years after his wife tragically lost her battle against breast cancer
The footballer's half-sister, Sian St Fort, posted a poignant Instagram photo in tribute to her late mother and her family
Another post shows Sian posing in a bridesmaid dress with her brother Rio
Tributes have also poured in for the heartbroken family from the world of football, with Gary Lineker leading the way.
The former Everton and England striker wrote: 'Thoughts are with @rioferdy5 and family. They've suffered way too much lately.'
Sol Campbell added: 'So sad to hear my England team mate and friend's mother Janice passed away. My heart goes out to you and your family Rio.'
Rio's former club, Manchester United, and the official England football team also tweeted their condolences.
The tragic news came just two years after Rio lost his wife Rebecca to cancer - something he spoke movingly about in the BBC's Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum and Dad earlier this year.
His mother featured in the documentary and provided strength for the former footballer who struggled bravely with the responsibility of raising his children without their mother being around.
A statement issued by Rio and the family nodded to Mrs St Fort's role in helping the former footballer through the loss of his wife, saying: 'Our mum was the centre and the heart of our family and has supported us all through many difficult times, always with a smile on her face.'
Ferdinand posed for this picture with his mum on mother's day in 2015
Rio, Anton and their half-sister Sian as children with their mother, Janice
The tragic news comes just two years after Rio lost his wife (right) through cancer - something he spoke movingly about in the BBC documentary
Rio Ferdinand breaks down during the filming of the BBC documentary about losing his wife
'We are heartbroken to announce that our amazing mum Janice passed away today after an ongoing battle with cancer,' the statement read.
'She was an inspiration to us all and was loved by everyone who knew her. She died at Guy's Cancer Unit, London Bridge Hospital, with her loving husband Peter and us, re, at her bedside.
'She was a devoted mother to us all, and she was the most incredible grandmother to our children.
'The whole family are devastated.
'She was an inspiration to us all' read the statement issued by Rio, Anton and the family
'Our mum was the centre and the heart of our family and has supported us all through many difficult times, always with a smile on her face.
'Her strength and courage, as well as her great sense of humour and immense kindness, were never-ending.
'We would like to thank all the staff at Guy's Cancer Unit for looking after our mum so well during her illness especially Marta and Joanna as well as everyone who has sent kind wishes to us all during this difficult time.'
Mrs St Fort was just 17 when she had Rio, and with their father playing little part in the brothers' upbringing on a tough estate, her ability to instil discipline was crucial to their ability to keep out of trouble.
She was described as 'the backbone of the family' with one relative recalling: 'If Janice told Rio to be home by 7pm, he'd be there by one minute to, or her voice would be echoing all over the estate.'
Just as the former Manchester United defender was coming to terms with the loss of Rebecca, his wife of six years, he has been hit with another hammer blow.
He was meant to feature in the Star Sixes exhibition tournament at the O2 in London last night, but has withdrew in light of the news.
In the emotional documentary which aired earlier this year, he admitted he had turned to alcohol to help him cope with the pain.
Rio's wife was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014 but had appeared to be clear of the cancer following treatment.
But cruelly, a scan in 2015 revealed it had returned and spread to her bones and she died just five weeks later on May 1.
The speed of the decline hit him so hard he spiraled into despair and he struggled to cope with the grief.
On top of the tragic loss, he now had to raise his three children without their mother.
Mrs St Fort, who was 58, died with her four children and her husband at her bedside
Rebecca Ellison, wife of Rio, tragically lost her life to breast cancer in 2015
Pictured, Ferdinand with his half-brother, Jeremiah and half-sister Sian as well as their mother
Former England defender Rio Ferdinand's mother has died after losing her battle with cancer
Rio Ferdinand turns away from the camera and covers his eyes in an emotional interview
Ferdinand's mother featured in March's BBC documentary Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum and Dad
Presenter Jake Humphrey sent his support on social media to Rio Ferdinand and his family
Rio revealed how he opened up to a friend about losing his wife Rebecca in a tearful conversation six months after her death.
The father-of-three said in the weeks following her death in May 2015 didn't 'look at himself' and instead focused on his children — sons Lorenz, then nine, Tate, then six, and daughter, Tia, just four. It was 'all about the school run, the basic stuff,' he said.
It was only when he was in Qatar with close friend Jamie later that year that Ferdinand broke down.
'It just triggered that chain of events and free flowing conversation that you start talking about feelings and stuff going forward and it was a release,' Ferdinand said.
'All the first few months it was all about, like what am I going to do with the kids, the school run, just the basic stuff,' he added.
St Fort was one of six children and grew up in south-east London
'And then obviously, the sorting out the funeral and making sure everyone's alright and you don't really look at yourself and you don't really think about chatting...'
His openness in the BBC documentary was lauded by celebrities and those struggling with similar anguish, and fans will hope it will have put him in a better place to cope with the crushing new blow.
Mrs St Fort, whose maiden name was Lavender, was one of six children and grew up in south-east London.
Her Irish mother left the family at an early age and she was largely raised by her father.
She began dating Julian Ferdinand, who hailed from St Lucia, as a teenager and they later had two children together, Rio and Anton.
They lived on a council estate in Peckham and never married.
They later spilt up and Janice eventually married Peter St Fort, with whom she had a daughter, Sian and a son, Jeremiah.
Rio and Anton both went on to become professional footballers with West Ham. Rio, 38, later moved to Leeds and Manchester United and won 81 caps for England.
Anton, 32, also had spells with Sunderland and QPR, among others, and is now at Southend.
Rio Ferdinand lost his wife, Rebecca Ellison, to breast cancer in 2015.
He filmed a documentary, Being Mum and Dad, earlier this year about how he and his three children have coped with grief.
Mrs St Fort featured in the documentary, and in it, she starts welling up and says: 'He's 100mph. I think that's how he gets through his day. He can't just stop.
'And I think it's because when he stops he has to think about his loss and his children's loss.
'For me, I think that's his way of coping. I see him looking out the window, sitting in a chair in a daydream, and that's when I start feeling, 'What's going on? What are you thinking about?'.'
Rio and his wife Rebecca on their wedding day back in 2009 in the Caribbean
Talking in the immediate aftermath of losing his wife, Rio said: 'I'm sitting there thinking how can I ever be happy. I'm happy over here, but I look at my children and that brings me back to sadness again.
'I was ignorant myself, I was thinking no way am I going to go see a shrink. On this journey, I got a great understanding that there are some fantastic people out there who help.'
And while he did not contemplate suicide, Ferdinand said he had a better insight into those who consider it: 'I didn't think about it myself but I understand people who get into that situation.
'Before I'd think that guy is so ignorant and selfish. Now I wouldn't do it but I understand why he's there.'
Opening up on the brutal loss in the BBC documentary, he said: 'To put it into words and my kids at the time were nine, seven and four, and to break it down into little people's thinking and words in a way they can understand it, without being scarred, by that one little message that I give them, I hope I can give them a message that they can look back on and say, you know what he did that in the best way possible at that time.'
He also recalled another painful moment, when his son saw cards on the wall of the hospital thanking members of staff for their hard work, that highlighted to him how difficult it can be to translate things to children.
'I said that they [the cards] were thank you messages for staff up on the wall and he said 'Well they didn't help my mum.'
'The way that kids just see things in black and white and that's it, his day went on, it hits home that I've got a lot of work to do,' Rio explained.
Anton Ferdinand's emotional tribute to his mother after she passed away on Thursday
Rio's brother Anton took to Instagram to pay an emotional tribute to his mother this evening.
He posted a picture of them together with the caption: 'Today at 1.35pm I lost my loving caring and forever selfless mum.
'Mum, for 32 years of my life you've done nothing but put me first, always cared and worried about others before yourself.
'An inspiration to me, my brothers, sister and husband Peter and anyone she had in her life.
'Mum, we will still be having our talks in the morning when I'm on the way to work.
'Thank you to all the staff at Guys cancer care for keeping my mum comfortable and pain free on her way to heaven to be with her father.
'RIP Mum Love and miss you always mum your son. Anton xxx.'
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