Updated 11:36 a.m. ET
Myra Kraft, the wife of Patriots owner Robert Kraft and mother of team president Jonathan Kraft, passed away early Wednesday morning. Mrs. Kraft had been battling cancer for a long time. She was a well-known philanthropist, who was the president of the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation and involved in several other charities around the world.
The team released a statement regarding the news:
"Words cannot express the deep sorrow that we feel in learning of the passing of Myra Hiatt Kraft. Myra passed away early this morning after a courageous battle with cancer. We are all heartbroken. The global philanthropic community and the New England Patriots family have suffered a great loss."
Robert Kraft, who has been a key member of the NFL owners' negotiation team during the lockout this summer, has been traveling back and forth from league meetings to be by his wife while she was ill.
DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFL Players Association, issued a statement to the media on Wednesday about the loss.
"On behalf of all NFL players, I want to offer my deepest sympathies to Bob and the Kraft family," Smith wrote. "I know how much he loves Myra. We mourn her loss and the entire player family is with heavy hearts today. We mourn her loss today and my heart goes out to a great man and his family. Myra will be missed."
Several NFL players offered their condolences on Twitter for Myra Kraft.
Patriots NT Vince Wilfork wrote: "F'n lockout I don't even know how to get in touch with Mr kraft to offer my support and condolences.......... a wonderful life lost that I probably wlda had the chance to see again if it wasn't for f'n $$$ problems!! Luv ya Myra "momma."
He added soon after "Sorry guys had to vent Myra was a wonderful woman who my wife and I loved dearly #somuchmorethanfootball"
Ravens WR Donte' Stallworth, who played in for the Patriots in 2007, heard the news via Twitter and responded, "Great family, great ownership that really cares about EVERY player! My condolences to the Krafts."
Saints FB Heath Evans, another former Patriot, wrote on his account: "We have lost 1 of the greatest women I know & hands down the finest in all of sports w/ the passing of Mrs. Myra Kraft. God rest her soul!" He followed that up with, "What made Myra Kraft special? Strong but Tender-hearted/Proud but Humble/Bold but Soft-Spoken/ Extremely blessed but lived to be a Blessing"
SS Lawyer Milloy, who was released by the Patriots in a surprise move in 2003, wrote "I'm truly heartbroken today. Myra Kraft has passed away. With my Brisk departure from #Boston, she is the one person that I regret not saying goodbye too. As a young player/man she was a gr8 example of how a woman stands beside, not behind, a man of power! I never got a chance to say thanks 4 that lasting impression. R.I.P. You will be missed."