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TV presenter Maya Jama went through a heartbreaking ordeal at just 16 years of age after her boyfriend was murdered – and she was left "blaming herself".
The 27-year-old star was just 16 when her 21-year-old boyfriend Rico Gordon was killed in the crossfire of a gang attack in 2011.
Maya, who recently presented ITV's new singing competition Walk The Line, was on the phone to Rico, who was trying to get directions to her house in Bristol when he got caught in the crossfire.
Speaking to The Sun on Sunday, Rico's mum Anna has opened up about watching Maya rise to fame, dipping her toe in radio and TV presenting.
Although Maya is now a national success and a household name, Anna said "fame hasn't changed her", explaining to the publication how she still remembers Rico, and reaches out to Anna on his birthday – December 27.
“Maya and Rico were deeply in love and they were a beautiful couple, always laughing and joking around," she said.
“It was only after they recovered Rico’s phone that I could fully appreciate how in love they were. There were so many photos of them hugging and kissing. There is a big church that you can see from the balcony of my house and Maya told me they were planning on getting married there."
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Maya joined Rico's mum Anna to go on BBC Crimewatch after the tragedy, where they both appealed for witnesses.
Describing her boyfriend as "the nicest person" she had "ever met", Maya also recalled the moment that he was shot dead, and how she heard it through the phone.
“I thought that maybe he’d dropped his phone because I heard a bang but it could have been his phone falling on the floor.”
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Speaking to the publication, Rico's mum Anna explained that every time Maya speaks of Rico, she cries.
Anna said that: “Maya blamed herself after what happened, but then everyone blamed themselves. She tried to convince Rico to stay in London that day."
Speaking recently of losing her childhood sweetheart so young Maya said: “With my boyfriend passing, it gave me a fearless approach. I felt like life was really short.
“At 16 you think the world is a fairytale and it took me out of that. It made me even more determined.”
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- Maya Jama
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