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Naya Rivera's ex-fiancé, rapper Big Sean, posts message: 'You are a hero'

The "Glee" actress was found dead Monday in Lake Piru, five days after she went missing during a boating trip with her 4-year-old son.
Big Sean and Naya Rivera
Rapper Big Sean and actress Naya Rivera in 2013, the year they got engaged.Barry King / FilmMagic
/ Source: NBC News

Rapper Big Sean called his ex-fiancée Naya Rivera a hero and thanked her for helping him become a "wiser and a better person" in a touching Instagram post following the "Glee" actress' death from accidental drowning in a California lake.

"Rest In Peace Naya, God Bless your Soul! Thank you for blessing us all with your talent and presence," the rapper, whose real name is Sean Michael Leonard Anderson, wrote on the post Friday with a photo of Rivera and a second image of her with her son.

Rivera's body was found Monday at Lake Piru, five days after she went missing during a boating trip with her 4-year-old son. A Ventura County medical examiner ruled her death an accidental drowning.

The child was found asleep in the boat wearing a life vest and told investigators that he and his mother went swimming and he got back on the boat, but she did not. Another life jacket was found in the boat.

Rivera's son described being helped into the boat by his mother from behind and told investigators that when he looked back, he saw Rivera disappear under the water.

Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said Monday that they believe the boat started drifting because it was not anchored and Rivera "mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat but not enough to save herself."

Ayub said it was still speculation, but it was possible Rivera got caught in some currents in the lake.

"You are a hero! Not just because of how you saved your son, also because of the barriers you knocked down for so many people to make them feel confident in themselves and to stand tall and be proud when they couldn’t achieve that on their own," Anderson wrote in his Instagram post.

"I appreciate and cherish everything that ever happened between us for making me wiser and a better person," he continued. "I’m still grieving and in shock, I can’t believe this is real. I’m praying for you and your family and I know your watching over them and protecting them. Rest In Peace Naya."

Anderson and Rivera began dating in 2013 and got engaged later that year after meeting on Twitter. The romance, however, was short-lived and the couple split about six months after going public with their relationship, according to E! News.

Rivera later married actor Ryan Dorsey, the father of her son. The pair divorced in 2018 after four years of marriage.

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