'Glee' Creators Setting Up College Fund for Naya Rivera's Son Josey

Naya Rivera’s son, Josey, will always be a part of the Glee family.

One day after the actress was officially pronounced dead when her body was recovered from Lake Piru in Ventura County, California, the creators of the beloved Fox musical series, Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan, paid tribute to the late star — and made a promise to her family — in an emotional statement to ET.

“We are heartbroken over the loss of our friend Naya Rivera,” the trio wrote. “Naya wasn’t a series regular when we cast her on Glee. She didn’t have more than a few lines in the pilot. But it didn’t take more than an episode or two for us to realize that we had lucked into finding one of the most talented, special stars we would ever have the pleasure of working with. Naya could act, she could dance and she could sing (could she ever sing!). She could nail a joke as well as she could crush you with an emotional scene. She could move between being scary tough and deeply vulnerable with ease. She was a joy to write for, a joy to direct and a joy to be around.”

While the Glee team acknowledged some of Rivera’s most memorable musical performances over the series’ run, including the “Rumor Has It/Someone Like You” Adele mashup, “Valerie,” and “Songbird,” they noted that “her greatest Glee legacy is probably the humor and humanity that she brought to Santana’s relationship with her best friend and eventual girlfriend/wife Brittany (played by Heather Morris).”

Naya Rivera’s Best ‘Glee’ Moments as Santana

Naya Rivera’s Best ‘Glee’ Moments as Santana

“It was one of the first times an openly lesbian, high school relationship was seen on network television and Naya understood what ‘Brittana’ meant to the many young women who were seeing themselves represented on television for the first time,” they recalled. “Naya always made sure that Santana’s love for Brittany was expressed with dignity, strength and with pure intentions. Naya was always moved by the girls who reached out to her to tell her how much Santana and Brittany’s love affected them. Naya’s obligation to them – and to all of her fans was obvious. She had the rare combination of humility and endless confidence in her talent.”

As with many of her castmates, Murphy, Falchuk and Brennan specifically noted Rivera’s ability to learn and recall her lines on the spot — “which wasn’t easy considering the giant mouthfuls of dialogue we often gave her.”

“She was warm and caring and fiercely protective of the rest of the cast. She was tough and demanding. She was fun. She was kind. She was generous,” they added. “There were ups and downs during the wonderful and stressful years we spent making Glee. We disagreed, we fought, we made up, then we fought some more, and then we made up again. The kinds of things that happen in a family. Naya was more than just an actor on our show – she was our friend.”

“Our hearts go out to her family, especially her mom Yolanda, who was big part of the Glee family and her son Josey,” they continued. “The three of us are currently in the process of creating a college fund for the beautiful son Naya loved most of all.”

Many of Rivera’s former co-stars also promised to look out for 4-year-old Josey in their own emotional tributes, with Amber Riley sharing, “Rest In Peace Angel, and know that your family will never have to worry about anything,” and Jenna Ushkowitz writing, “You are so loved. You deserved the world and we will make sure Josey and your family feel that everyday.” 

“We will make sure to keep your legacy and spirit alive,” Harry Shum Jr. echoed, “so Josey will grow up to know the incredible woman you were.”

“I’m thankful he will have a strong family around him to protect him and tell him about his incredible mom,” Kevin McHale wrote.

Rivera was officially pronounced dead on Monday — exactly seven years after the death of her friend and former Glee co-star, Cory Monteith — after she went missing on July 8 during a boating trip with Josey. She was 33 years old.

Naya Rivera's ET Moments: From Child Star to 'Glee' and Motherhood

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