The late Naya Rivera’s dad, George Rivera, is opening up to ET about how his family is coping with her tragic death almost a year later.
ET’s Kevin Frazier sat down with George for an emotional conversation, airing Wednesday on ET, ahead of his first Father’s Day without his daughter. Naya was pronounced dead on July 13, five days after she went missing at California’s Lake Piru while taking a boat ride with her now 5-year-old son, Josey. She was 33 years old.
George said Josey asks about his mom frequently, and gives credit to Josey’s father, Ryan Dorsey, and Naya’s younger sister, Nickayla Rivera, for helping Josey through it.
“Nickayla and Ryan are doing a really great job,” he says. “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.”
“We handle him and we talk to him just like he’s a 5-year-old going on six,” he continues. “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.”
Last July, authorities shared that they believed that just before Naya’s death, she mustered enough energy to push Josey safely back onto the boat as the boat started drifting, though couldn’t save herself. When asked what that final heroic act says about Naya, George shares, “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.”
Tune in to Entertainment Tonight on Wednesday, June 16, for more of our moving conversation with George, including him sharing his heartbreaking letter to his daughter and how he hopes fans will remember Naya. Check local listings here.
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