The Family of Naya Rivera Honors Her Life a Year After Her Passing

The family of Glee actress Naya Rivera speaks on how they are coping following her tragic passing last July.
Naya Rivera / Instagram

The family of Glee actress Naya Rivera speaks on how they are coping following her tragic passing last July.

33-year-old Naya Rivera disappeared on July 8 of 2020, at Lake Piru in California while going fishing with her 4-year-old son, Josey Hollis Dorsey. Her body was discovered in the lake almost a week later, and she was believed to have drowned while saving her son Josey. Rivera was best known for her role as sassy cheerleader Santana Lopez on the Fox musical-comedy series, Glee.

Per ET Canada, Rivera’s mother, Yolanda Previtire, and sister Nickayla Rivera spoke with Good Morning America about how they are adjusting to her passing. Previtire told Juju Chang, “Sometimes we’re afraid of the sorrow being so heavy that we’re afraid for our own self, ’cause this is hard. There are no words to describe what we’re going through. All we know is we have each other.” Nickayla shared that they are taking it day by day and living life to the fullest, “Because I know if we could go back, we’d hug a little bit harder.”

Previtire recalled the last Facetime call she had with Rivera and how beautiful she looked. Rivera shared screenshots of Josey fishing on the lake, which helped search teams locate her body. Previtire had told her daughter that the waves were getting intense and they should go somewhere calmer. She had told her to call her when they got out of the water. When she was told that her daughter was missing, “It was almost like a force. I don’t know what it was, but I literally was just pushed backward. I just ran backward, if you can imagine, just screaming, and I ended up in the bathroom. I slammed the door, I was on the floor, and I had to gather myself.”

Although it is hard to adjust without her daughter, Previtire says she feels her energy every day. Naya tells her, “Mom, be happy. Don’t cry. I’m OK. Go get Josey. Have fun.”

Rivera’s Glee costars paid tribute to her on the anniversary of her passing. Heather Morris, who played Santana’s best friend and girlfriend, wrote on Instagram, “You are the brightest star in my eyes, Naya Rivera. I’m so grateful GOD LAYED A HAND and brought us together as best friends, mom friends, scene partners, and everything in between. Your legacy lives on in kindness and being ‘that sassy queen’ in my eyes.”

Jenna Ushkowitz, who played Rivera’s classmate Tina, posted a photo of Santana performing and wrote, “Always a light, always with us. My heart is with you and your family today. ♥️ love you Nougs.” Chris Colfer, whose character Kurt Hummel was often in hilarious arguments with Santana, posted a beautiful black and white photo of Rivera with a heart emoji.

Fans on Twitter shared emotional sentiments for Rivera. As her character Santana struggled with her sexuality throughout the show and eventually embraced being gay, many fans reflected on how Rivera validated their sexual identity.

Be sure to visit the charity drive on GoFundMe launched by Rivera’s costars to honor her memory, which raises money for her favorite charity, Alexandria House.