Admitting that he is “still grieving and in shock,” the rapper, 32, shared a black-and-white photo of a smiling Rivera, followed by a second shot of her holding her 4-year-old son Josey Dorsey, whose father is ex-husband and actor Ryan Dorsey.
Calling her “a hero,” Big Sean spoke of Rivera’s influence on the entertainment industry. “Rest In Peace Naya, God Bless your Soul! Thank you for blessing us all with your talent and presence. You are a hero!” he wrote. “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.”
“I appreciate and cherish everything that ever happened between us for making me wiser and a better person,” he continued. “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 [you’re] watching over them and protecting them. Rest In Peace Naya.”
According to People, Rivera and Big Sean began dating in April 2013 and were engaged by October of that year. They broke up in April 2014 and Rivera reportedly wed actor Ryan Dorsey months later in July. She gave birth to their son Josey Dorsey the following year, however the pair officially divorced in 2018.
On Monday, Rivera’s body was recovered at Lake Piru in Ventura County, Calif., five days after she went missing during a boat excursion with Josey. According to a police press release, the boat was found drifting with the boy asleep onboard. Rivera was nowhere in sight, however Josey, who was wearing a life vest, told authorities that “he and his mother had been swimming in the lake, and he got back in the boat, but Rivera did not.”
The actress was presumed dead throughout a days-long search during which her family and former co-stars visited the lake. Rivera’s cause of death, revealed Tuesday, was drowning.
There was “no indication” drugs or alcohol played a role in the accident, per the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office.
“The circumstances and visual characteristics all indicated that the body was that of Naya Rivera and the identity has been confirmed by dental comparison,” read a report obtained by Yahoo Entertainment. “The body has been x-rayed and a full autopsy has been performed. The autopsy findings are consistent with a drowning and the condition of the body is consistent with the time that she was submerged. No traumatic injuries or disease processes were identified at autopsy.”
Authorities pointed out that there are currents in Lake Piru, particularly in the afternoon, which is the time of day Rivera disappeared from the unanchored pontoon boat. Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub noted that Rivera may have “mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat, but not enough to save herself.”
On Tuesday, Rivera’s family issued a statement to Deadline via her manager Gladys Gonzalez saying, “Heaven gained our sassy angel.”
“We are so grateful for the outpouring of love and prayers for Naya, Josey and our family over the past week,” read the statement. “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.”