Rio Ferdinand’s vital stats:
Rio Gavin Ferdinand, born 7 November 1978
Rio Ferdinand’s children with the late Rebecca Ellison:
Lorenz Ferdinand, born 2006
Tate Ferdinand, born August 2008
Tia Ferdinand, born April 2011
Who was Rebecca Ellison, Rio’s wife and children’s mum?
Rebecca Ellison, born 5 December 1980, was an Essex-based accountant when she met Rio in the 1990s, while he was at West Ham Utd.
A private person, Rebecca didn’t reveal publicly that she was battling breast cancer in 2014. She was thought to be cancer-free, reports have said, before it was discovered it had spread to her bones.
Very tragically, Rebecca died aged 34, 10 weeks after discovering her breast cancer had returned, in May 2015.
Who is Kate Wright, Rio’s fiancé and soon-to-be stepmum?
Kate Wright, born 3 June 1991, worked in a bank before joining the cast of itvBe’s long-running reality series The Only Way Is Essex.
She was famously in a relationship with her co-star, Dan Edgar for 4 years – much of which played out on screen. In July 2016, the couple split.
Rio’s family life with Rebecca, Lorenz, Tate and Tia
Rio and Rebecca were pretty private about their family life together.
We don’t know much about their early relationship, though Rio previously shared that his attempt to win her over involved the line: “Write your number down there then, please.” Apparently, she hit back with: “Nah, you’re alright thanks.”
Of course, Rio won her over in the end, and the 2 began dating. They stayed together throughout Rio’s high profile career moves, including his record-breaking transfer to Man Utd, when he was aged 24.
Rumours swirled that Rio had cheated on Rebecca numerous times, and he was (supposedly) quoted by the Daily Star as saying: “I’ve been a cheat before, but I’ll be a great dad.”
She gave birth to their first child in 2006. Her second was born in 2008, and Rio proposed marriage shortly after in 2009. Her third child was born in 2011.
Rebecca was Rio’s support system and took care of the family at home, and had reportedly looked forward to his retirement and moving house, shortly before she passed away.
Rio opens up about Rebecca’s passing
After Rebecca’s death, Rio retired from professional football, and began opening up to the public about the family’s loss.
He admitted his “world collapsed” and he now “understood” people who contemplated suicide, and confessed: “At the beginning I’d sit and think how am I ever going to be happy?
“I can’t see a point where I’m ever going to be able to smile, because I can get happy over here, but then I look at my children – and that brings you right back into sadness again because they haven’t got a mum.”
In 2018, he also starred in a BBC documentary called Being Mum And Dad (stills above), where he confessed he didn’t know how to help his young children open up about their feelings.
“I didn’t know any techniques to speak to the children. I didn’t know what buttons to push,” he said.
“I’d been starting conversations with them to try and get how they were feeling out, and they would just shut me down, walk away, close the conversation down completely.”
Eventually, he created a memory jar for the children to use, and share happy memories of their mum: “It kind of opened everything up and it was a beautiful moment just seeing them talk happily and being joyful about their mum rather than it being sad and negative moments. It switched it from dark to bright.”
How did Rio Ferdinand meet Kate Wright?
In January 2017, Kate and Rio met through mutual pals while holidaying separately in Dubai.
Just a few months on, and they visited the United Arab Emirates again on a mini break, as a couple. Things were pretty official in April 2017, with Kate making a public exit from TOWIE.
Kate’s relationship with Rio’s children
Quite famously, Kate stepped away from the spotlight and said goodbye to TOWIE for good in September 2017 – when she realised her relationship with Rio was serious. In a statement, she revealed she wanted to devote herself to his family, writing:
“I’m taking a step back from the public eye, I want to keep my life private as I lived my previous relationship on TOWIE. My priority right now is Rio and the family.”
She later shared of the shock move: “People probably thought I was crazy, but it was the best decision I could have made.
“It didn’t feel right for the children to see their dad’s girlfriend out and about, creating all this drama on TV.”
In October 2017, Kate moved in, and got to grips with her new stepmother role. “I wasn’t a good cook at first,” she said in an interview.
“I’d always eaten out or at my mum’s. It took a while, but now the kids say I do better lamb chops than Rio.
“It’s certainly full-on. My friends who haven’t got kids say, ‘I can’t believe how much you have to do,’ but it’s my life now and I’m really happy.
“Rio helped me a lot with learning the ropes and a couple of mums at school have been really supportive.”
She opened up about how she and Rio help the children remember Rebecca, with a special room in their home dedicated to her, and their late nan.
Over time, it seems the children have come to love and respect Kate. Case in point? Eldest son Lorenz’s tribute after the couple got engaged…
Rio Ferdinand and Kate Wright’s engagement
In November 2018, Rio shared on Instagram that he had popped the question to Kate – and she said yes!
While on a family holiday in Abu Dhabi, Rio got down on one knee before an impressive view of the night’s sky, in front of his 3 children.
“She said yes ? ❤️ How these 3 kids kept it a secret I’ll never know ??♂️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️” Rio wrote below the gorgeous pics.
Rio shared that his little ones had been involved in the big proposal secret, with 12-year-old Lorenz writing on social media that he’d struggled to keep the news to himself – also paying tribute to Kate’s dedication to the family.
“I was so close to slipping up the promise but other than that I am so proud of dad but especially Kate for the things she have done for us love u guys so much.
“So glad she said yes I am so proud of you dad and Kate love u both so much,” he finished. “My boy is trying to make his dad all emotional and s***” Rio joked in response.
Kate also shared the snaps, and added: “The perfect end to our holiday … How could the answer not be yes❤️❤️ “
Arriving home, Kate revealed that the kids had a ‘She Said Yes’ balloon tribute made and put up in the family’s home. Aww!
We can only imagine that it’s a very joyous, but still a little bittersweet, time for the family. Fortunately, the sweetness in there really does help ❤️
Images: Instagram/Rio Ferdinand, Facebook/BBC