RIO Ferdinand was left devastated when his beloved wife Rebecca passed away, aged just 34, in 2015.
But how did she die? And what was her story? We take a look at her life…
Who was Rebecca Ellison?
Rebecca Ellison was a former fitness trainer who met footballer Rio Ferdinand while he was playing at West Ham in the late 1990s.
Originally from Essex, she kept a low profile and later trained as an accountant before she wed Rio in 2009.
She gave birth to the couple’s first son Lorenz in 2006 and a second son called Tate followed in three years later.
They welcomed a daughter called Tia in 2011 around the same time the family moved back to London following a stint in Manchester when Rio played for United.
How did Rebecca Ellison die?
Rebecca was just 34 when she passed away in May 2015 after a short battle with breast cancer.
She had kept her illness private after being diagnosed in 2014 and after receiving treatment, thought she was clear of the disease. However, the cancer returned and spread to her bones.
When her death was announced it prompted an outpouring of grief from the footballing world.
Rio confirmed his beloved wife’s death in a heartbreaking statement that read: “My soul mate slipped away last night.
“Rebecca, my wonderful wife, passed away peacefully after a short battle with cancer at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London.
“She was a fantastic loving mother to our three beautiful children. She will be missed as a wife, sister, aunt, daughter and granddaughter.
“She will live on in our memory, as a guide and inspiration.”
When was Rebecca Ellison’s funeral?
Rebecca was laid to rest following a private ceremony in Kent in May 2015.
Many of her husband’s teammates attended the funeral including former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
Others also paying their respects were Robin van Persie, Edwin van der Saar, Nemanja Vidic and Darren Fletcher.
The service was described as a celebration of Rebecca’s life and she allowed her three children to choose the music that would be played.
How did Rio and his children react to the death?
Following the death, Rio has admitted that his “world collapsed” and he initially turned to alcohol to deal with his grief, but is now focusing on being a loving dad to his kids.
Speaking in his autobiography, he wrote: “I no longer have days when all I can do is cancel my plans and curl up in a ball.
“It is only nights that can still undo me. I usually wake up between 2-3am, when the horror of what my children have lost hits me again, keeping me awake until dawn.”
He has also started a new relationship with Kate Wright, however, the pair are keen to keep their romance away from the spotlight.
The Manchester United star retired from football in 2015 after a trophy-laden career and he set his eyes on a professional fight in a boxing ring after making the shock announcement earlier this year.
What was Rio Ferdinand: Being Mum and Dad?
Earlier this year, an hour-long documentary aired on BBC One that saw 38-year-old Rio talk about his life as a widower.
The programme also explored how bereaved parents manage grief and support their children – and shared how the only way they can truly support them is to rebuild their lives.
Rio also met with other parents struggling with bereavement and explained his own struggles surrounding trying to bring up his three children by himself.
Recently, it has been reported that Rio has struck up a relationship with former Towie star Kate Wright and the pair were spotted enjoying drinks with each other in London.
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