Rivera first went missing five days earlier during a boating trip at California's Lake Piru with her four-year-old son Josey. Her official cause of death is accidental drowning.
In a statement shared with Deadline, Rivera’s family expressed their gratitude to fans for the “outpouring of love and support” for them, Rivera and Josey, before paying tribute to the 33-year-old’s life, legacy and spirit.
“We are so grateful for the outpouring of love and prayers for Naya, Josey and our family over the past week,” the statement reads. “While we grieve the loss of our beautiful legend, we are blessed to honour her everlasting legacy and magnetic spirit. Naya was an amazing talent, but was an even greater person, mother, daughter and sister."
Rivera’s family also thanked the investigators and all those who helped recover the actress’s body from Lake Piru.
“Thank you to the men and women of the Ventura, Tulare, and San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Departments for your commitment and unwavering effort to find Naya,” the statement continues. “We extend endless gratitude and ovation to the heroine who found her. Thank you to her friends, colleagues, and fans for your continuous support.
“Heaven gained our sassy angel. We kindly request that our privacy be respected during this very difficult time.”
The family’s tribute comes as numerous other celebrities, including fellow Glee cast members, and fans, pay their respects to the late star.
“Rest sweet, Naya. What a force you were. Love and peace to your family,” Glee co-star Jane Lynch wrote on Twitter.
Rest sweet, Naya. What a force you were. Love and peace to your family.— Jane Lynch (@janemarielynch)July 13, 2020
Chris Colfer, who played the character Kurt Hummel on the show, wrote in part: "How can you convey all your love and respect for someone in one post? How can you summarise a decade of friendship and laughter with words alone? If you were friends with Naya Rivera, you simply can’t."
Demi Lovato also shared a tribute to the actress, writing: "The character you played was groundbreaking for tons of closeted (at the time) queer girls like me, and your ambition and accomplishments were inspiring to Latina women all over the world."
RIP Naya Rivera. I’ll forever cherish the opportunity to play your girlfriend on Glee. The character you played was groundbreaking for tons of closeted (at the time) queer girls like me, and your ambition and accomplishments were inspiring to Latina women all over the world. pic.twitter.com/oCML03M9Kw— Team Demi (@ddlovato)July 14, 2020
According to investigators, Rivera and Josey had been swimming in the lake prior to the actress’s drowning.
“He and Naya swam in the lake together," Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said of Rivera and her son. "It was during that time that her son described being helped onto the boat by Naya... He told investigators he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water."