Naya Rivera remembered by family as their 'sassy angel'
To the world, Naya Rivera was an actress and singer who most famously portrayed cheerleader Santana Lopez on Fox's musical comedy Glee. But to those closest to her, the 33-year-old was simply a great mother, daughter, sister, and friend.
Following her devastating accidental drowning on July 8, Rivera's family has released a statement thanking those involved in the search operation that recovered her body on Monday after five days of scouring the murky waters of Lake Piru in California.
"We are so grateful for the outpouring of love and prayers for Naya, Josey, and our family over the past week," the statement 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.
"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."
Rivera is survived by her parents Yolanda and George Rivera, her younger brother Mychal, younger sister Nickayla, and her 4-year-old son Josey.