'RuPaul's Drag Race' star Chi Chi DeVayne dead at 34

DeVayne starred in the VH1 reality show's eighth season and then returned for its third season of "All Stars."
Logo's "RuPaul's Drag Race" Season 8 Premiere
Chi Chi DeVayne performs onstage during Logo's "RuPaul's Drag Race" season 8 premiere on February 22, 2016, in New York City.Santiago Felipe / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Chi Chi DeVayne, a beloved star of the hit VH1 reality series "RuPaul's Drag Race," has died. She was 34 years old.

Following the death of the popular drag queen, RuPaul, host of the reality show that rose DeVayne to national fame, released a statement to TODAY.

"I am heartbroken to learn of the passing of Chi Chi DeVayne," RuPaul wrote of the "RuPaul's Drag Race" star on Thursday. "I am so grateful that we got to experience her kind and beautiful soul. She will be dearly missed, but never forgotten. May her generous and loving spirit shine down on us all."

RuPaul also shared a message on behalf of the network that airs the show and the show's production company: "On behalf of VH1, World of Wonder and the cast and crew of RuPaul’s Drag Race, I extend my deepest sympathy — from our family to hers."

According to Variety, last week DeVayne was hospitalized with pneumonia. Back in July, she was admitted for suspected kidney failure. DeVayne lived with scleroderma, a group of rare diseases that involve the hardening and tightening of the skin and connective tissues.

Chi Chi DeVayne, the stage name for Zavion Davenport, starred in the eighth season of the popular reality show, in which drag queens from around the country compete for the title of "America's Next Drag Superstar."

DeVayne remained in the competition for nine episodes, ultimately finishing in fourth place, and eventually returned to the program for its third season of "All Stars," which brings back top contestants from previous seasons who didn't win.

DeVayne was a popular figure on the program due to her humble nature, which she tied to growing up in Shreveport, Louisiana, and impressive dance and lip-syncing skills.

"On behalf of the Davenport/Wyandon family, it is with tremendous sorrow that my family and I announce the passing of my beloved son, the world renowned 'Chi Chi DeVayne,'" a statement from the family read that was shared on DeVayne's official Instagram account.

"His final words to family and friends, 'Never give up!'"

Fans and friends on social media were quick to offer their condolences and memories of her.

"Rest in Power! So sad and heartbroken to hear of the passing of #chichidevayne you'll be loved and missed sis!" wrote "RuPaul's Drag Race" season 12 star Heidi N Closet.

"Rest in Power ChiChi Devayne. A legend an icon and everything more," added another fan.

"I’m in actual tears. 2020 has taken so much from us. #ChiChiDevayne, thank you for inspiring us all. Rest well," commented a third.

"So deeply sad about the loss of Chi Chi DeVayne. She was an incredible performer, so down to earth and a bright light in the drag community," television personality Padma Lakshmi wrote. "She brought such Louisiana warmth & personality to @RuPaulsDragRace & I'm sure inspired countless young people in the LGBTQ community."

Lakshmi paired her sweet sentiments with one of DeVayne's most celebrated performances from her time on "Drag Race:" a lip-sync of the song "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" from the musical "Dreamgirls."