“While we grieve the loss of our beautiful legend, we are blessed to honor her everlasting legacy and magnetic spirit,” Rivera’s family said in a statement to Deadline.
“Naya was an amazing talent, but was an even greater person, mother, daughter and sister,” the family wrote.
Rivera, 33, disappeared last Wednesday after she took a pontoon boat out on Lake Piru with her 4-year-old son Josey.
Her body was recovered by authorities Monday and by Tuesday an autopsy on her remains confirmed her cause of death as drowning.
Investigators believe she died after mustering enough strength to get her soon safely out of the water, then falling underneath the surface.
“We believe it was mid-afternoon when she went swimming, the idea being, perhaps, that the boat began drifting … and that she mustered enough energy to get her son back on the boat but not enough to save herself,” Ventura County Sheriff William Ayub told reporters at a press conference held after the discovery of her body Monday.
He added that “[Her son Josey] described being helped into the boat by Naya, who boosted him onto the deck from behind. He looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water.”
The “Glee” star’s family thanked authorities for their search and recovery efforts.
“We extend endless gratitude and ovation to the heroine who found her,” the family statement said.
“Heaven gained our sassy angel. We kindly request that our privacy be respected during this very difficult time.”