Ryan Dorsey is remembering Naya Rivera. The 38-year-old actor — who was married to Rivera from 2014 to 2018 and with whom he shares their now 6-year-old son, Josey — issued a touching statement to People about the late actress on what would have been her 35th birthday on Jan. 12. Rivera, known for playing Santana Lopez on Glee, died at age 33 following a drowning incident in July 2020.
“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 said. “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 continued to the magazine. “It’s hard to write this, tears coming out my eyes. Unf—ing real.”
Rivera had rented a boat at California’s Lake Piru with Josey in July 2020. After the Glee actress failed to return the boat on time, staff at the lake searched and found Josey sleeping in it with a lifejacket on. Rivera was declared missing for a total of five days before she was found on July 13, with authorities ruling her death an accidental drowning. The authorities determined Rivera saved Josey by placing him back in the boat before she died. The actress was laid to rest on July 24.
Dorsey shared a similar tribute to Rivera for what would have been her 34th birthday last year. “Just as surreal as it is real that you’re gone. If that makes sense, but none of this still makes any sense…34..I could just hear you saying “Ah, I’m old AF now!” Ha…Rest easy old lady…” he wrote on Instagram captioning a black and white image of him alongside Rivera and son Josey.
To honor the Glee actress’ memory, Dorsey, alongside her show co-stars Heather Morris, Kevin McHale and Jenna Ushkowitz, conduct fundraisers for Alexandria House — a support home for women and children in emergency situations — which Rivera supported before her death.