His wife Rebecca Ellison tragically lost her life to breast cancer two years ago, at the age of just 34.
And now Rio Ferdinand, whose girlfriend and former TOWIE star Kate Wright says she is quitting show business to focus on her new beau, has opened up about the horrific moment he had to tell his three children their mother was dying.
The former footballer, 38, said he struggled to work out how to explain to Lorenz, now 11, Tate, now nine, and Tia, now six, that their mother’s cancer had come back and would be fatal.
Tragic loss: Rio Ferdinand married Rebecca Ellison (above) in 2009, but she tragically passed away six years later from breast cancer, aged just 34
Gone too soon: The former footballer, 38, said he struggled to work out how to explain to Lorenz, now 11, Tate, now nine, and Tia, now six (pictured), that their mother was dying
In a section of his upcoming autobiography shared with the Sun, Rio wrote about the traumatising moment in 2015.
He said: ‘I gazed at my beautiful children, lost for words, searching for a way to begin. “I’m afraid I’ve got to tell you something very, very sad.
‘She’s going to be a star — she’s going to go up into the stars as a spirit, and she’ll always be there in the sky, looking down on us…
‘I tried to explain again, but we were beyond words by then; engulfed in a firestorm of pain.’
Devastating: Rio told his children (pictured ahead of World Book Day at school) that their mother was ‘going to be a star — and she’ll always be there in the sky, looking down on us’
Rio and Rebecca married in 2009 and after having three children together Rebecca was first diagnosed with cancer in 2014.
She appeared to be free from the disease after treatment, but a scan earlier in 2015 revealed it had returned and spread to her bones.
Rebecca died just five weeks later on May 1.
Brave: Rio wore his wedding ring in a tribute to Rebecca while on holiday in Portugal in August
Relaxing: The former England captain holidayed with girlfriend Kate Wright (above) in August
The former footballer produced a documentary earlier this year called Being Mum And Dad, which followed his journey through the grieving process alongside Lorenz, Tate and Tia.
Depicting his struggle to come to terms with her death on the documentary, Rio also admitted the filming process had been a type of ‘therapy’ for him.
He said at the end of the programme: ‘There’s a much clearer picture about going forward. Inside I’m opening up and breathing a little bit.
Tragic: Mother of three Rebecca was first diagnosed in 2014, but a scan in 2015 revealed it had returned and spread to her bones. She died just five weeks later on May 1
Quality time: Rio and Kate, 26, confirmed their romance in July
‘I’m opening my mind to think about little moments we shared together, which I wasn’t capable of doing before. I can sit here now and comfortable say she’d be looking down and telling me ”Well done, it’s all been worthwhile”.’
The sportsman confirmed his romance with reality star Kate Wright, 26, in July after weeks of swirling rumours they were an item.
The pair have since been spotted on a number of outings together, and spent a sun-soaked holiday in Portugal together in August with Rio’s family.
Speaking out: The former footballer produced a documentary earlier this year called Being Mum And Dad, which followed his journey through the grieving process