Ryan Dorsey Pens Emotional Tribute To Naya Rivera On 35th Birthday

by Madison Vanderberg
Ryan Dorsey and Naya Rivera on a red carpet, looking at each other and smiling.
Jason Merritt/Getty

Ryan Dorsey pays tribute to late Glee star Naya Rivera on what would have been her 35th birthday

In July 2020, Glee star Naya Rivera tragically lost her life at the age of 33 in a boating accident. Today she would have been 35-years-old. To commemorate her life, her six-year-old son Josey’s father Ryan Dorsey wrote a beautiful, but ultimately heart-wrenching message to Rivera on what would have been her birthday.

Dorsey and Rivera were married from 2014 to 2018, splitting just two years before her death. In a statement to People on her birthday January 12, 2022, Dorsey shared a personal written tribute to the late mother of his child, sharing anecdotes about their son and how he imagines Rivera might have felt about turning 35.

“She knew how willing Josey was to share his things but she’d be so proud to see how he’ll give things he loves away to friends or donate them,” Dorsey wrote in the tribute. “He has this unique literal laugh-out-LOUD cackle of laugh when he’s watching TV that’s kind of obnoxiously endearing like hers was, but his even more so. No matter your mood, it would make anyone smile if you heard it.”

“At least once a day I find myself shaking my head, like it’s still unbelievable, so surreal that she’s gone. She’d be freaking out today, I could almost hear her: ‘OMG, I’m almost 40!’ ” he added. “It’s hard to write this, tears coming out my eyes. Unf—ing real.”

Rivera lost her life in a 2020 boating accident.

The actress, who was beloved for portraying Santana Lopez on Glee, died in July 2020 at age 33 after she and Josey rented a boat at Lake Piru in Southern California. When the boat did not return, a search crew found Josey alone on the boat. An autopsy has ruled her death a drowning accident and it was believed she used her last bit of energy to make sure her son was safe aboard the boat.

We’re sending so much love to her son on this day. A day to remember a talented actor and mother, taken way too soon.