Naya Rivera's Family Issues First Statement Since Tragic Drowning: “Heaven Gained Our Sassy Angel”

In the wake of confirmation that Naya Rivera drowned in a southern California lake last week, the family of the late Glee star has spoken out for the first time.

The actress, tragically, died on July 9 after renting a pontoon boat in Ventura County’s Lake Piru, passing away after saving her four-year old son from dangerous waters.

According to investigarors, Rivera was able to boost her child back onto the vessel —  where he was later found by a couple onlookers — before going underwater and never returning.

She was 33 years old.

“We are so grateful for the outpouring of love and prayers for Naya, Josey and our family over the past week,” her family’s statement now reads.

“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 Tuesday afternoon, Rivera’s autopsy confirmed that no drugs or alcohol were found in the star’s system.

As police officers theorized shortly after Naya went missing, all signs point to this being a horrible accident.

Josey, thankfully, went unharmed.

He’s been described as being in “good health” and is currently with his father and Rivera’s ex-husband, Ryan Dorsey.

Concluded her loved ones yesterday:

“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. Heaven gained our sassy angel. 

“We kindly request that our privacy be respected during this very difficult time.”

With so many of Rivera’s former Glee co-stars paying the late actress tribute, series creators Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan acknowledged the tragedy in a lengthy statement released by 20th Century Fox TV.

“We are heartbroken over the loss of our friend Naya Rivera,” the trio wrote.

“Naya wasn’t a series regular when we cast her on Glee. She didn’t have more than a few lines in the pilot.

“But it didn’t take more than an episode or two for us to realize that we had lucked into finding one of the most talented, special stars we would ever have the pleasure of working with.”

To honor Rivera’s legacy, Murphy, Falchuk and Brennan announced that they “are currently in the process of creating a college fund for the beautiful son Naya loved most of all.”

They continued in their moving message:

“Naya could act, she could dance, and she could sing (could she ever sing!) She could nail a joke as well as she could crush you with an emotional scene.

“She could move between being scary tough and deeply vulnerable with ease. She was a joy to write for, a joy to direct and a joy to be around.”

We’re just gonna keep quoting the executive producers here because each word of their statement is important:

Naya is responsible for numerous iconic Glee musical performances—the Adele mash-up, ‘Valerie,’ ‘Songbird’—but her greatest Glee legacy is probably the humor and humanity that she brought to Santana’s relationship with her best friend and eventual girlfriend/wife Brittany (played by Heather Morris).

It was one of the first times an openly lesbian, high school relationship was seen on network television and Naya understood what ‘Brittana’ meant to the many young women who were seeing themselves represented on television for the first time.

Naya always made sure that Santana’s love for Brittany was expressed with dignity, strength and with pure intentions.

Naya was always moved by the girls who reached out to her to tell her how much Santana and Brittany’s love affected them.

Naya’s obligation to them—and to all of her fans—was obvious.

She had the rare combination of humility and endless confidence in her talent.

Naya was a real pro. Always on time, always knew her lines (which wasn’t easy considering the giant mouthfuls of dialogue we often gave her), always kept everyone laughing on the set.

She was warm and caring and fiercely protective of the rest of the cast. She was tough and demanding. She was fun. She was kind. She was generous.

There were ups and downs during the wonderful and stressful years we spent making Glee. 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.

Our hearts go out to her family, especially her mom, Yolanda, who was a big part of the Glee family and her son Josey.

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Glee aired for six seasons (from 2009-2015) on Fox.

The network and production company praised Rivera for her contribution to the series in a statement released on Monday, July 13.

“Naya Rivera was a fierce talent with so much more to do and this is such a terrible tragedy,” 20th Century Fox TV and Fox Entertainment said.

“We are forever grateful for the indelible contribution she made to Glee, from the first episode to the last.

“Our hearts are broken and our thoughts go out to Naya’s family, friends and young son.

Rivera’s body was recovered on the seventh anniversary of fellow Glee costar Cory Monteith’s accidental overdose death.

We send our condolences to her friends, family members and loved ones.

May Naya Rivera rest in peace.

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