Statement announcing Lil Tay's death deleted from social media star's verified Instagram account

ByDeena Zaru ABCNews logo
Thursday, August 10, 2023
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A statement alleging that Lil Tay, who rose to stardom as a rapper and influencer on social media, had died was deleted on Thursday afternoon from her verified Instagram account, fueling questions about the validity of the original announcement about her death, ABC News reported.

The deletion of the post came after her father, Chris Hope, declined to comment when asked by ABC News on Wednesday about reports that his daughter and her brother, Jason Tian, had died.

The teen rapper was 9 when she gained national attention for her controversial videos, which flaunted an extravagant lifestyle.

The post referred to Lil Tay as "Claire."

"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 posted on Instagram on Wednesday read. "This outcome was entirely unexpected, and has left us all in shock."

The statement also alleged that Lil Tay's brother, Jason Tian, had died also and that their deaths are under investigation. The post did not state where and when they died, but Lil Tay is a native of Canada who moved to Los Angeles in 2018 to pursue opportunities in the entertainment industry.

"Her brother's passing adds an even more unimaginable depth to our grief," the statement on Wednesday 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. Claire will forever remain in our hearts, her absence leaving an indescribable void that will be felt by all who knew and loved her."

Lil Tay's last Instagram was posted on June 18, 2018, showing what appeared to be a screenshot of Lil Tay Facetiming with the late rapper XXXTentacion, whose real name is Jahseh Onfroy. The post is a tribute to the rapper, who was shot and killed, in Broward County, Florida on June 18, 2018. He was 20 years old.

"X you truly changed me," the post says. "You were there for me when everyone wanted me to fail, you were there to give me advice, you were there. As a father figure, when I don't have one, you were here, FaceTiming me and calling me for hours when I'm down, 3 hours ago you announced the Charity event we were going to throw, we had everything setup, I can't believe this, the evil in the world, This isn't good Bye I Love you Bro."

The expletives in Lil Tay's social media videos and her imitations of so-called gangster rappers -- in one of which she pretends to use drugs and in another, she uses the n-word -- prompted controversy and questions about the potential exploitation of children on social media.

In a 2018 Nightline interview, Lil Tay, who was 9 years old at the time, opened up about her social media stardom and being the internet's self-proclaimed "youngest flexer."

Her mother, Angela Tian, and her brother defended Lil Tay's videos in the interview with Nightline.

"A lot of people are gonna say this and that. We just keep going," Jason, who was 16 at the time of the 2018 interview, told Nightline.

Her mother told Nightline that she is a "proud mom" and "a great parent."

"My daughter has accomplished so much by herself," she said, adding that her daughter will be a "superstar."

Lil Tay insisted at the time, "No one's forcing me to do this," and said that she runs her own Instagram account.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.