Janice St Fort, 58, the mother of Rio and Anton Ferdinand, has died in hospital after a battle with cancer, the family has announced.
A statement issued by Rio, Anton and the family described Mrs St Fort as a “devoted mother” and “an inspiration”.
“We are heartbroken to announce that our amazing mum Janice passed away today after an ongoing battle with cancer,” said the statement.
“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, her four children, 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. 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, 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 another child, Sian.
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 wide, 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.