Naya Rivera Remembered By Her Family: “Heaven Gained Our Sassy Angel”

On the fateful July 13, Naya Rivera’s family’s worst nightmare came true. After five agonizing days of a search operation at Lake Piru, the body of the former Glee actress was recovered. Rivera, a daughter, mother and sister, was 33.

Naya with her mom family archive

The gut-wrenching photos of Rivera’s parents and brother at the lake last week showed a family coping with unimaginable grief. Yesterday, they got closure by getting their girl back.

And while nothing will alleviate their pain, in their first public statement, released to Deadline by Rivera’s manager Gladys Gonzalez on their behalf, Rivera’s family chose to focus on Naya’s “everlasting legacy and magnetic spirit.”

family archive

They also thanked everyone who was involved in the search, including “the heroine who found her,” as well as those who prayed for Naya, while asking for privacy as they continue to mourn her loss.

Here is the family’s statement:

We are so grateful for the outpouring of love and prayers for Naya, Josey and our family over the past week. While we grieve the loss of our beautiful legend, we are blessed to honor her everlasting legacy and magnetic spirit. Naya was an amazing talent, but was an even greater person, mother, daughter and sister.

Thank you to the men and women of the Ventura, Tulare, and San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Departments for your commitment and unwavering effort to find Naya. We extend endless gratitude and ovation to the heroine who found her. Thank you to her friends, colleagues, and fans for your continuous support.

Heaven gained our sassy angel. We kindly request that our privacy be respected during this very difficult time.

Naya with her sister Family Archive

Actress-singer Rivera, also known for her roles on Step Up: High Water and Devious Maids, went missing Wednesday during a boating trip with her 4-year-old son Josey at Lake Piru north of Los Angeles. Her body was recovered yesterday, with the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office today ruling her death accidental drowning. In her final moments, she is believed to have helped her son to safety on their boat.

Naya Rivera is survived by her parents, Yolanda and George Rivera; brother, Mychal Rivera; sister, Nickayla Rivera; and son Josey.

Here are two photos of Naya with her dad through the years:

Family Archive

Naya with her son in her final Instagram post: