In what marked their first public statement, the actress is remembered by her loved ones for her “magnetic spirit” witnessed both in front of and behind the camera.
“We are so grateful for the outpouring of love and prayers for Naya, Josey and our family over the past week,” the statement, released by Rivera’s manager to Deadline, read. “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.”
On Monday, July 14, Rivera’s body was recovered from the Southern California lake she went missing from five days prior while boating with her 4-year-old on. Just hours ago, the Ventura County Medical Examiner determined she died in an accidental drowning.
Rivera’s family also expressed their gratitude to the law enforcement personnel who worked to bring her home.
“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,” they said in the statement.
“Heaven gained our sassy angel,” the family concluded. “We kindly request that our privacy be respected during this very difficult time.”
“There were ups and downs during the wonderful and stressful years we spent making Glee,” Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan said in a joint statement on Tuesday. “We disagreed, we fought, we made up, then we fought some more, than we made up again. The kinds of things that happen in a family. Naya was more than just an actor on our show—she was our friend.”
Rivera is survived by her parents, Yolanda and George Rivera; brother, former football player Mychal Rivera; sister, model Nickayla Rivera; and son Josey.
E! News has reached out to Rivera’s team for comment.