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'RuPaul's Drag Race' contestant died of heart failure

Oct. 3, 2012 at 7:33 PM ET

D Dipasupil / Getty Images file /

On Tuesday, fans were shocked and saddened by the announced passing of performer Antoine Ashley, who shot to fame as drag queen Sahara Davenport during season two of "RuPaul's Drag Race" in 2010. Logo, the network behind "Drag Race," offered a new a new statement on Wednesday, and revealed the cause of the 27-year-old's sudden death.

"Antoine passed away due to heart failure on October 1, 2012, at John Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland," the statement says, with heartbreaking words from his loved ones.

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Said his mother, Angela Ashley Reddish, on behalf of the family: "I thank God for giving me an Angel Antoine Ashley to share with the rest of the world. My family and I would like to thank everyone for their condolences and support. We know that our Angel is now dancing in heaven. May God bless each and everyone."

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Born and raised in Dallas, Ashley earned a BFA in dance at Southern Methodist University, recorded the hit singles "Pump With Me" and "Go Off," and, in addition to "Drag Race," appeared in A&E's "15 Films About Madonna," Voom HD's "Magnificent Obsessions" plus "One Life to Live" and "Judge Karen." 

He is also survived by boyfriend Karl Westerberg, a fellow drag performer known as Manila Luzon on season three of "Drag Race." 

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"Antoine lived to entertain the world as Sahara Davenport, and the world was in awe over his extreme talent. But his heart is what made us all fall in love with him," Westerberg says in Logo's statement. "To me he will always be my best friend, my hero, my Diva, and I have always considered myself more than lucky to have him be forever a part of my life. Thank you, hon, for bringing so much beauty to all of us. Your legacy lives on in me and all of us you’ve touched.

Adds Logo in its statement: "In memory, Sahara asks that you, 'Live, love, and believe.'" 

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