12/08/2008 AT 10:45 AM EST
The Joker brought about a teary reunion for the family of Heath Ledger
, who was posthumously honored by the Australian Film Institute on Saturday.
Ledger, who tragically died in January at age 28, was named best actor for his role in the summer's Batman blockbuster The Dark Knight
. His award was accepted by Heath's father Kim, his mother Sally and his sister Kate, the Associated Press reports.
"It's been without a doubt the most difficult year, losing such a loved family member," said Kate Ledger.
Referring to Heath's 3-year-old daughter, Matilda
, whose mother is Michelle Williams
, Kate added, "We are so proud of him and humbly accept this award on behalf of his beautiful daughter, who we will cherish forever."
The late actor's mother thanked the group for the tribute to her son, saying, "We are immensely proud of him, not only for his professional achievements, but in the way he truly cherished his family, friends and his precious Matilda."
Sally Ledger also said, "Heath was never one to accept mediocrity, he put his heart and soul into achieving what he believed was required and followed his passions with great enthusiasm and an insatiable curiosity."
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