Almost a year after Naya Rivera’s tragic death, her father is opening up about how the family is still healing — particularly, the star’s young son, Josey.
During an interview with ET, George Rivera (pictured above) got candid about how his 5-year-old grandson is coping with the loss of his mother, who drowned in California’s Lake Piru while taking a boat ride with Josey.
George told ET’s Kevin Frazier the little boy asks about the Glee alum often, noting that Josey’s dad, Ryan Dorsey, and Naya’s younger sister, Nickayla Rivera, have been helping the child through such a difficult year. He explained:
“Nickayla and Ryan are doing a really great job. Tough situation, especially because he was there — it’s not like you’re talking about a ghost that’s floating around, right? He’s got memories as well, but boy is he coming around, right? Really strong kid.”
As we reported, Naya’s little one was discovered on a boat without her at the time, with her personal flotation device, purse, and wallet still on board. The 33-year-old’s body was discovered five days later after an extensive and heartbreaking search.
George went on to explain that the family doesn’t walk around eggshells when Josey asks questions about his mother, which he believes has helped the little one process the situation. He continued:
“We handle him and we talk to him just like he’s a 5-year-old going on six. It’s no different but when he wants to talk about his mother, we talk about his mother, in conversation. He’s growing up and handling it really well.”
That’s so great to hear, because what happened was the epitome of a tragedy.
As you likely know, authorities shared last July that they believed Naya mustered enough energy to push her son safely back onto the boat as it started drifting, but couldn’t save herself. When asked what that final act of heroism said about his daughter, George mused:
“Sort of the same mantra she used for life, you know, preservation, keep going, when things are hard you keep pushing. It just shows you the strength of the person.”
It’s a mantra that Naya’s loved ones have been carrying on in the wake of her devastating death. In September 2020, Dorsey took to social media to recall the conversations he had with Josey the days leading up to the actress’ body being found.
He said in an Instagram video:
“You know the result of the search. You know what that result is going to be when it ends and the conversation that you’re going to have to have with , it’s sad. And when the young boy says, ‘Oh, do you think that we’ll find her? I just want them to find her.’ And you know that he’s so smart. And you know he witnessed a nightmare right before his eyes and he knows that even if they find her, she’s not coming home… I have to tell him, ‘Oh, she’s an angel now. And she’s with God and she’s in heaven.’ And he says, ‘Well, I want to go there. How do I get there?’ I wouldn’t wish that upon any of your ears to have to hear that, hear those words come out of the sweetest soul you know.”
Dorsey later explained that his son asked if Nickayla, whom he calls “Titi,” could live with them, as Naya’s younger sister is the “closest thing he has to a mom.” He added:
“It’s a temporary situation and after all that he’s had to go through, how could you deny him that?”
Sounds like the family is doing everything they can to nurture Josey, which is exactly what Naya would have wanted.
Check out a clip of George’s interview (below) for more.
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