“Rest In Peace Naya, God Bless your Soul! Thank you for blessing us all with your talent and presence,” Sean captioned photos of Rivera on Instagram. “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.
Rivera, 33, went missing on July 8 after renting a boat in Lake Piru with her 4-year-old son, Josey. On Monday, after a days-long search in difficult water conditions, the Glee star’s body was found. An autopsy revealed the cause of death as drowning and the manner was an accident, according to the Ventura County Medical Examiner.
“I appreciate and cherish everything that ever happened between us for making me wiser and a better person,” Sean continued in his post. “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.”
Rivera and Sean began dating in 2013 and got engaged later that year. The two first met on Twitter and Sean later appeared on Rivera’s debut single, “Sorry” The couple separated in early 2014 amid rumors that the rapper had been unfaithful, a claim he denied.
Many other artists have also paid tribute to Rivera, including her Glee co-stars Lea Michele, Chris Colfer, Darren Criss and Heather Morris, along with singers like Demi Lovato, Bebe Rexha and Kehlani.
Read Big Sean’s emotional tribute to Rivera here.