Naya Rivera's mother Yolanda Previtire says Josey is a "boy version" of the Glee actress "in every sense," as she recalls her daughter's legacy one year after her tragic death
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naya rivera and josey
Credit: naya rivera/ instagram

Naya Rivera's son Josey Hollis is keeping his mother's memory alive, family member say.

Speaking with Good Morning America to remember the Glee actress one year after her tragic drowning on July 8, 2020, Naya's mother Yolanda Previtire and her sister Nickayla say they have "honest" conversations with the 5½-year-old about grieving his mom.

Yolanda says Josey, whom Naya shared with ex Ryan Dorsey, "misses his mom" one year later, and he often "recalls their life together."

"It's almost like we're feeding off each other and lifting each other up. Josey has lifted me up so many times. He's comforting that way, and we do the same for him," says Yolanda, who adds that Josey is a "boy version" of Naya "in every sense," citing his shared "adventure for life" and "tenacity."

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Naya Rivera
Naya Rivera
| Credit: David Livingston/Getty Images

Naya drowned on July 8, 2020, at age 33. Her body was found in the waters of Lake Piru, 60 miles north of Los Angeles, five days after going missing during an afternoon excursion in a rented pontoon boat with Josey, who was 4½ at the time. She was laid to rest on July 24.

Yolanda recalls to GMA how detectives informed her at her house that Naya was missing and Josey was safe after previously chatting with Naya over FaceTime during their mother-son boat outing. "It was almost like a force. I don't know what it was, but I literally was just pushed backwards," she remembers of her reaction to the news. "I just ran backwards, if you can imagine, just screaming and I ended up in the bathroom. I slammed the door, I was on the floor and I had to gather myself."

She then recalls when Josey was at her house as she received word that Naya's body had been found.

"Josey was at the house literally probably for no more than 30 minutes, and he was sitting there eating his pancakes, 'cause that was his favorite thing to do at Grandma's house. And the phone rang," she said.

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In January, Dorsey, who was married to Rivera from 2014 to 2018, expressed his pride for their son in a sweet Instagram tribute to Josey. Sharing a snapshot of the child decked out in Carolina Panthers gear, the actor, 37, wrote, "This little boy...man...I couldn't be any prouder of someone. At such a young age, he's endured more than anyone should at 5 years old."

"Without even fully realizing it, he lives the #keeppounding mantra every day with his resilance [sic]," he continued. "You're so strong, so brave, and so kind. I will always be proud of you and we will always #keeppounding b/c that's all we can do."