"I can't believe this is real. I'm praying for you and your family," Big Sean wrote in a touching tribute to Naya Rivera, whom he was engaged to in October 2013 until April 2014

By Maria Pasquini
July 18, 2020 11:15 AM
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Big Sean and Naya Rivera

Big Sean is still reeling from the death of his ex-fiancée Naya Rivera.

The rapper, 32, who ended his engagement to the late Glee star in 2014, has broken his silence about the death of the 33-year-old actress, who accidentally drowned while swimming at Lake Piru in Ventura County, California, with her 4-year-old son, Josey. Law officials recovered Rivera's body from the water on July 13, five days after she was reported missing.

“Rest In Peace Naya, God Bless your Soul!” Sean wrote in an emotional tribute. Although the pair did not always see eye to eye over the years, in his post, the rapper went on to praise his ex for not only saving her son in the final moments of her life, but also for her contribution to the representation of queer people on television.

“Thank you for blessing us all with your talent and presence. 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,” he said. “I appreciate and cherish everything that ever happened between us for making me wiser and a better person.”

Naya Rivera and son Josey
Big Sean/Instagram

As his message came to a close, Sean admitted that he was still coming to terms with the loss of Rivera. “I’m still grieving and in shock, I can’t believe this is real. I’m praying for you and your family," he continued, adding that he know Rivera is "watching over them and protecting them."

"Rest In Peace Naya 💙🙏🏾,” he wrote.

In addition to sharing a glamorous black-and-white photograph of Rivera as part of his tribute, Sean also included a photograph of Rivera and her son together, locked in a loving embrace.

Rivera and Sean began their romance in April 2013, and the pair got engaged that October. However, in April 2014, Big Sean broke off the engagement, saying that it was a “difficult decision.”

“Sean wishes Naya nothing but the best and it is still his hope that they can continue to work through their issues privately,” his rep told PEOPLE at the time.

Three months later, Rivera announced she had tied the knot with Ryan Dorsey, whom she finalized her divorce from in June 2018. The pair welcomed their son Josey in 2015.

RELATED VIDEO: Naya Rivera's Cause of Death Ruled as Accidental Drowning

Authorities said on Monday that they believe Rivera died saving Josey.

"We know from speaking with her son, that he and Naya swam in the lake together at some point during their journey," Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub said at a news conference. "It was during that time that her son described being helped into the boat by Naya, who boosted him onto the deck from behind. He told investigators that he looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water."

"She mustered enough energy to get her son back onto the boat, but not enough to save herself," Ayub added.