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Glee Star Naya Rivera Dies at 33

Rivera was declared missing on July 8 after going boating with her son.

Naya Rivera
(© Tristan Fuge)

Naya Rivera, who played Santana Lopez on the Fox series Glee, has died at the age of 33.

Rivera was declared missing Wednesday, July 8, after her 4-year-old son, Josey, was found alone on a pontoon boat in Lake Piru, California, which they had rented for the afternoon. After a five-day search and rescue operation, Rivera's body was recovered and identified on Monday, July 13, according to the Ventura County Sheriff's Office. Sheriff Bill Ayub stated that there is currently no indication of foul play or suicide, with investigators believing Rivera drowned in what they previously called a "tragic accident." Her body was found on the seventh anniversary of the death of Glee cast mate Cory Monteith.

Born January 12, 1987, Rivera made her television debut at the age of 4 alongside Della Reese on the CBS sitcom The Royal Family. She appeared in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Family Matters, Baywatch, and The Bernie Mac Show before landing the breakout role of Santana on the musical dark comedy Glee. Her character, a mean-girl cheerleader, became a fan favorite on the show over the course of its run, with Santana eventually falling for fellow cheerleader Brittany (Heather Morris) and becoming an icon for lesbian representation on television.

Rivera signed with Columbia Records in 2011, releasing a single, titled "Sorry" in 2013. Her memoir, Sorry Not Sorry: Dreams, Mistakes, and Growing Up, hit shelves in 2016. In addition to her son, Josey, whose custody she shared with ex-husband Ryan Dorsey, Rivera is also survived by her parents and siblings.


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