Maya Jama has opened up about how the loss of her first boyfriend at a young age spurred her not to “let any chance miss me”.
The new Love Island host said that Rico Gordon’s death in a pub in Bristol in 2011 “completely changed everything” for her.
She was 16 at the time of the 21-year-old’s sudden death. Gordon had been killed in the crossfire of a gun fight in a pub in her home town.
Jama and Gordon’s mother Anna went on BBC Crimewatch to appeal for witnesses after his death. Two men were later convicted of killing an innocent bystander and were both given life sentences.
Speaking to The Sun, Jama said that although she was traumatised by the loss, it also made her more determined not to miss any opportunities that came her way.
Losing anyone at a young age is hard, and loss changes your perspective on life,” she said.
“I am not going to let any chance miss me. I am going to do everything in my power to be the best person I can be.”
During her appearance on Channel 4’s Foxy’s Fearless 48 Hours With… in October 2021, Jama became emotional when talking about the death of her “first love”.
“I got to 16 and I met a boy,” she said. “He was killed in the summer I was supposed to move to London – and that was my first love.
“Your whole world just changes as you’re a little girl and you realise, alright, this is adult stuff going on. I was devastated, I was so sad.”
Anna told The Sun last year that Jama “blamed herself after what happened” to Gordon because she wasn’t able to “convince Rico to stay in London” on the day he was killed.
“Rico didn’t know Bristol well and there are some dodgy parts, so Maya thought it would be better if he stayed in London,” she said.
“At the last minute, Rico decided to come to Bristol to see Maya. You always think, ‘What if he had just stayed home?’ Maya cries every time she talks about what happened.”
Jama recently took over hosting duties of the popular ITV reality dating show from Laura Whitmore and began her stint last month.
She was confirmed as the new host in October last year. The Independent’s review of the latest Winter Love Island season, which began on 16 January, described Jama as “the real winner” of the show.