BAD BOYS II star Gabrielle Union has announced that she and her husband CHRIS HOWARD have split, after four-and-a-half years of marriage.

Union, 33, exchanged nuptials with former American football running back Howard in May 2001.

The screen beauty's publicist LISA KUSSELL says in a statement, "The couple remains close and asks that you respect their privacy at this difficult time."

The couple have no children together.