Vili Fualaau “lost a piece of himself” after his ex-wife and former sixth-grade teacher, Mary Kay Letourneau, died of cancer earlier this week. 

Letourneau was Fualaau’s teacher when the two began an illegal relationship. Fualaau was 12 years old at the time and before he turned 15, Letourneau became pregnant twice despite court orders aimed at keeping the two apart. Letourneau was ultimately sentenced to over seven years in prison for child rape. 

After Letourneau was released from prison, she remained a registered sex offender in Washington state. The couple was married in 2005 and Fualaau filed for legal separation in 2017. The couple had two daughters together, Georgia and Audrey.

Though the two were divorced, Fualaau still stayed close to his ex.

“They didn’t speak every day, but she would update him on her cancer treatment. At the beginning, the talk was that she was going to beat it, that even though the prognosis wasn’t good, that she’d fight with everything she had, and that she had a shot of surviving it,” a source told People. “She would talk to Vili or he would call her to see how she was doing. The marriage had split up, but they still had love for each other. They had children together and he would always say that she was his first love. So of course he is sad at the loss. He’s sad for the girls, but he’s also sad for himself.”