Lil Tay, a viral teen rapper and social media influencer, has died at the age of 14.
While no cause of death has been revealed, the controversial internet star’s passing is currently under investigation, according to a post shared to her Instagram account announcing her death on Aug. 9.
“It is with a heavy heart that we share the devastating news of our beloved Claire’s sudden and tragic passing. We have no words to express the unbearable loss and indescribable pain,” the statement began. “This outcome was entirely unexpected and has left us all in shock.”
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According to the Instagram statement, Lil Tay’s brother Jason Tian has also died at the age of 21.
“Her brother’s passing adds an even more unimaginable depth to our grief,” the statement continued. “During this time of immense sorrow, we kindly ask for privacy as we grieve this overwhelming loss, as the circumstances surrounding Claire and her brother’s passing are still under investigation.”
The statement concluded, “Claire will forever remain in our hearts, her absence leaving an irreplaceable void that will be felt by all who knew and loved her.”
Born in Vancouver, British Columbia as Claire Eileen Qi Hope, Lil Tay started gaining traction online in 2018 through viral posts flaunting luxury cars and money. Earning the moniker of the “youngest flexer,” she amassed approximately 3.3 million followers on Instagram.
Despite her rapid rise to fame, Lil Tay faced criticism for using offensive language, including a racial slur in a music video in 2017. She issued an apology for her language in 2018, asserting that she was not racist.
Lil Tay’s public persona was the subject of debate, with some believing that she was being exploited by family members. In response, Lil Tay maintained that her actions were her choice and expressed pride in her achievements.
“People think it’s funny, I guess, cause I’m 9-years-old and I’ve accomplished so much,” she said during an appearance on Good Morning America in 2018. “I’m the youngest flexer. I can do anything I like. If they don’t believe me, I don’t care.”
“No one is forcing me to do this,” she added at the time. “This is my decision. I am happy with what I am doing.”
Her mother, Angela Tian, described her daughter as a “really a great, well-behaved kid,” and insisted that her behavior on social media was just “all for entertainment.”
Other controversies continued to emerge, however, including a series of since-deleted Instagram posts suggesting that Lil Tay was being exploited by her mother, along with a video hinting that she was being coached by her brother into following a script, according to Insider.
Before her untimely passing, Lil Tay’s Instagram had been inactive following these incidents. Her final post commemorated the death of rapper XXXTentacion, with whom she was planning a charity event in 2018.
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