Anthony Riley, a contestant and frontrunner on the most recent season of The Voice, has died. The 28 year old singer appears to have committed suicide.
A Philadelphia-based street performer who had been earning a meager living Busking for nearly a decade, Riley electrified The Voice early-on, with his audition tape, seen above, leading to the judges turning their chairs around faster than with any previous contestant. The judges competed to mentor him, but Riley ultimately chose Pharell Williams, and went on to win his first battle round. However, he abruptly left the show after that victory, at the time attributed to “personal” issues. Riley later went public with his struggle to overcome substance addiction, and confirmed that he had left The Voice to seek treatment at a rehab facility in Philadelphia.
He would later tell Philly.com about his struggle, saying “At the time, [The Voice] wasn’t working for me and I felt like I needed to go, instead of taking on more responsibility than I could handle” He insisted however that The Voice was supportive, and reports since then hold that NBC paid for his time in Rehab.
Raised in West Philadelphia by his grandmother, Riley spent time in Las Vegas but it was in his native city that he began to make a name for himself as a street performer. In 2007, he briefly made headlines after being charged with disorderly conduct over his public singing, charges over which he successfully sued the city. In 2014, Philadelphia Magazine called him the city’s best street performer.