Rapper Big Sean has expressed disbelief in the death of his ex-fiancee and former Glee star Naya Rivera, whose body was pulled from a Southern California lake on Monday.
The rapper and Rivera, 33, got engaged roughly six months into their relationship, which lasted from 2013 to 2014.
On Friday night, Sean paid tribute to Rivera, writing on Instagram: “Rest In Peace Naya, God Bless your Soul!”
“Thank you for blessing us all with your talent and presence. You are a hero! Not just because of how you saved your son, also because of the barriers you knocked down for so many people to make them feel confident in themselves and to stand tall and be proud when they couldn’t achieve that on their own.”
He added: “I’m still grieving and in shock, I can’t believe this is real. I’m praying for you and your family and I know your (sic) watching over them and protecting them. Rest In Peace Naya.”
Rivera’s body was recovered from Lake Piru, northwest of Los Angeles, after she was reported missing five days earlier when she failed to return from a boating trip with her four-year-old son.
A medical examiner said Rivera accidentally drowned and there was no indication alcohol or drugs contributed.
Sheriff Bill Ayub said the actress’ son Josey told detectives the pair went swimming and she boosted him onto the deck before he looked back to see her disappear under the water.
He was discovered alone in the boat, asleep, wrapped in a towel and wearing a life jacket by the owner of the boat rental company.
Sheriff Ayub said their theory is that the boat drifted as they swam and she “mustered enough energy to get her son on board, but not enough to save herself”.
Rivera’s co-star Heather Morris honoured her with a moving message and series of photos posted to Instagram.
She wrote that Rivera “constantly taught” her “lessons about grief, about beauty and poise, about being strong, resilient”.
She added: “You are and always will be the strongest and most resilient human being I know, and I vowed to carry that with me as I continue to live my life.”
Glee creators Ryan Murphy, Ian Brennan and Brad Falchuk shared a tribute to the actress by announcing plans to establish a college fund for Josey.
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