Celebrities Pay Tribute to Naya Rivera After Police Confirm Her Death at 33

Rivera's body was recovered on July 13.

Naya Rivera
(Image credit: Paul Morigi)

Celebrities have paid tribute to Glee star Naya Rivera, whose body was recovered from Lake Piru, Southern California on Monday, July 13. Authorities said Rivera likely drowned while swimming in the lake with her 4-year-old son, Josey, who was found asleep on the pontoon boat they rented. Rivera, who was 33, saved her son's life, Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said in a press conference Monday. "She mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat, but not enough to save herself," Ayub said, as CNN reports.

Several of Rivera's Glee cast members shared their grief on social media Monday. Amber Riley wrote on Instagram, "My favorite duet partner. I love you. I miss you. I don’t have words right now, just lots of feelings. Rest In Peace Angel, and know that your family will never have to worry about anything."


"She was bold. She was outrageous. She was a LOT of fun," Darren Criss posted, adding, "I think she had more talent than we would have ever been able to see.⁣" Criss continued, "I was constantly moved by the degree to which she took care of her family, and how she looked out for her friends. She showed up for me on numerous occasions where she didn’t have to, and I was always so grateful for her friendship then, as I certainly am now.⁣"


Jenna Ushkowitz paid tribute to the "light and joy [Rivera] exuded," writing, "You shined on stage and screen and radiated with love behind closed doors. I was lucky enough to share so many laughs, martinis and secrets with you. I cannot believe I took for granted that you'd always be here." Ushkowitz added, "You are so loved. You deserved the world and we will make sure Josey and your family feel that everyday."


"Her brilliance and humor were unmatched. Her beauty and talent were otherworldly. She spoke truth to power with poise and fearlessness," Chris Colfer wrote. "She could turn a bad day into a great day with a single remark. She inspired and uplifted people without even trying. Being close to her was both a badge of honor and a suit of armor. Naya was truly one of a kind, and she always will be."


Alex Newell posted, "Now more than ever we must lift her family and friends up especially Josey! My heart is sent to them... Josey you are truly loved by every single person who loves your mommy! I love you Naya!"

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"My Naya, my Snixxx, my Bee. I legitimately can not imagine this world without you," Kevin McHale wrote, sharing that he and Rivera were in London together in 2013 when they heard the news of co-star Cory Monteith's death. "She was the most talented person I’ve ever known. There is nothing she couldn’t do and I’m furious we won’t get to see more," he continued. "If you were fortunate enough to have known her, you’ll know that her most natural talent of all was being a mother. The way that she loved her boy, it was truly Naya at her most peaceful."


Jane Lynch tweeted, "Rest sweet, Naya. What a force you were. Love and peace to your family."

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Demi Lovato tweeted, "RIP Naya Rivera. I’ll forever cherish the opportunity to play your girlfriend on Glee. The character you played was groundbreaking for tons of closeted (at the time) queer girls like me, and your ambition and accomplishments were inspiring to Latina women all over the world."

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Nene Leakes posted, "I was praying for a miracle! I wanted you to come home to your baby so bad. This hurts! I will hold the memories close to my heart and remember the good times, the laughs and the way we would cut up on set. Those were fun times! Please pray for Naya’s family."


Josh Sussman tweeted, "Naya, you will be missed so much."

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Tahj Mowry, who dated Rivera, wrote on Instagram last week, "My sweet Naya—to say that I am devastated would be an understatement. This is a nightmare. Everyday gets harder." Mowry continued, "We grew up together. We became adults together. We experienced so many firsts together. You were my first experience with everything; love, intimacy, heartbreak," concluding, "I love you forever. I always have and I always will."


Tia and Tamera Mowry, older siblings to Tahj, also shared tributes to Rivera on Instagram. "My Naya!" Tia wrote. "I became apart of your world through my brother @tahj_mowry. You guys used to hit the pavement auditioning together and booking jobs together. I’ve known your beautiful spirit since the age of 6. You quickly became family." Tia continued, "I love you. Your smile will always be the most beautiful smile. Rest my love. You are now a beautiful angel."


"My sweet Naya. I love you. Will always love you," Tamera posted. "I’ll never forget your sweet smile, your amazing voice, and your warmth and love that has always welcomed me. I knew as early as 9 years old you were going to grace us with so much talent and so much beauty. I’m so grateful to have been blessed with your presence for over 20 years. You took my breath away and always will."


Viola Davis posted, "Prayers for Naya Rivera's family. Man....can we have a "Do Over " of 2020. The loss is too much."

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"the reason songbird by fleetwood mac is one of my favorite songs ever is because of the glee soundtrack version. she transformed it," Kehlani tweeted. "Rest Easy Naya Rivera. God cover and hold her loved ones!"

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"Rest in Heaven," Dwyane Wade tweeted.

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"RIP sweet naya," Ashley Benson tweeted.

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Ricky Martin posted, "Beautiful memories boricua. RIP."

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Aisha Hinds tweeted, "Nearer and nearer to numb....fighting to feel HOPE everyday. This year has been deeply disruptive and devastating. This news is crushing. My whole being cries out in prayer for her 4 year old child...Have mercy."

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"This is absolutely heartbreaking," Mandy Moore posted. "Sending love and holding space for her son and loved ones."

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"Rest In Heaven, Naya Rivera. Sending so much prayer, love and courage to her family," Holly Robinson Peete tweeted.

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Becky G tweeted, "Beautiful Naya Rivera, Rest In Peace. My thoughts and prayers are with your loved ones. You will be missed & never forgotten."

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"This is an absolute nightmare," Bebe Rexha wrote. "I had the pleasure of having dinner with her once after a recording session we did together and she was an absolute sweetheart. My heart goes out to her family and friends. I hope I’m lucky enough to meet you up in heaven. Rest In Peace Naya Rivera."

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Emily Dixon
Emily Dixon

Emily Dixon is a British journalist who’s contributed to CNN, Teen Vogue, Time, Glamour, The Guardian, Wonderland, The Big Roundtable, Bust, and more, on everything from mental health to fashion to political activism to feminist zine collectives. She’s also a committed Beyoncé, Kacey Musgraves, and Tracee Ellis Ross fan, an enthusiastic but terrible ballet dancer, and a proud Geordie lass.