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“Praying for You”: Dwyane Wade’s Wife Gabrielle Union Offers Condolences to Revered Actor’s Heartbreaking Loss

Published 03/01/2024, 8:31 AM EST

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“If she can do it, I know I can do it too.” Cloerinda Jean Johnson Porter-Ford, who was born with a degenerative disability, fought every single day of her life so her children could thrive. “My mother is the strongest, most complete human being I’ve ever met,” said Billy Porter six years ago. Cloerinda was the one who stood by Porter when the religious community turned on him, the one who pushed him to get up and face life every day, even through the toughest of times. Now, six years later, after she breathed her last breath, her legacy lives on through the words of Billy Porter.

Being born with a degenerative disorder, Cloerinda Jean Johnson Porter-Ford fought the odds even when everyone had written her off, questioning why she was even trying. But it was all for her family. “I don’t know how to be anything else when you have an example like that. You can’t be anything else.” For years, Cloerinda derived her strength from Billy and his sister, and they derived theirs from the mother. So, when the Emmy winner announced Cloerinda’s passing, the art industry united to give them strength. And one of them was Dwyane Wade’s wife, Gabrielle Union.

In what must’ve been a trip down memory lane, Billy Porter and his sister posted pictures and videos of his mother, small snippets portraying their family’s love. His message read, “With heavy hearts, we announce the passing of our loving mother, Cloerinda Jean Johnson Porter-Ford. We were right beside her when she took her last breath, wrapped in our arms.” Reacting to this sad news, Gabrielle Union showed her support, writing, Love you, Billy!! Praying for you and all her loved ones.”

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Reminiscing about the time they spent together – everything from party snaps and graduation photos to Billy singing to Cloerinda – the brother-sister duo expressed, “Mommy lived life to the fullest despite physical limitations pressed upon her. She was the personification of true Christianity, and her unconditional love is a template that the world could benefit from employing.” However, it’s not just her unconditional love that’s worth learning from. It’s her strength as well.

In his book, Porter has detailed the health challenges his mother faced after her diagnosis. Due to her condition, Cloerinda had to rely on a wheelchair in the final few years of her beautiful life. Despite that, she never gave up and battled until the very end, all the while showering her children and family with love. Touched by the soul-stirring message and inspiring journey of Cloerinda – who passed away at 79 – many more fans and celebrities joined Union to offer their support.

A journey filled with “grace and integrity” and a legacy that’ll live on through tributes

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Bidding adieu to their mother, Billy Porter and his sister concluded their touching message, writing, We are heartbroken she is no longer here with us, but find solace that her suffering has ended. Her fight was long and hard—she did it with grace and integrity. Mommy will remain forever in our hearts as she continues to guide us from above, as she has done on this Earth.” 

Whenever she could, Porter’s mother attended industry events with Billy. With all her appearances over the years, she became just as recognizable a face as her son. So it was only natural for every corner of the Hollywood, theater, broadcast, and media industry to unite to say one last goodbye to her. Singer and songwriter Cyndie Lauper wrote, “Billy, I am so sorry for your loss. Praying for you and your family. Love you, Cyndi 😞🙏🕯️” 

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Joining her was actress Octavia Spencer, who expressed, “My heart and prayers are with you and your family. 🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽” Tamron Hall, a broadcast journalist, thanked Billy and his sister for giving the world a glimpse of the fighter Cloerinda was. She wrote, “Praying for you. Thank you for sharing her journey with the world. We love you.” Lena Waithe wrote, “Sending you so much love. Keeping your family in my prayers.”

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Two-time Emmy winner Loni Love sent her condolences, penning a beautiful message herself. “I’m so sorry but please keep the beautiful memories of your Mother to heart. Prayers for the whole family at this time 🙏🏾🙏🏾” Seeing all the support, there’s no doubt Cloerinda Jean Johnson Porter-Ford left a bigger mark on this world than she would’ve known. Our heartfelt condolences are with the actor and his family during this tough moment.

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Written by:

Pritha Debroy

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Pritha is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. After reporting on the luxurious lifestyle of celebrities for a year, she used that experience to cover the glamor side of the basketball world. She has expertly covered Larsa Pippen and Marcus Jordan's complicated love story and the lavish vacations of NBA superstars, among other off-court scoops.
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