Actress Naya Rivera may have become a TV star thanks to her musical role as Santana Lopez on Glee, but her family includes another famous face: Her brother, professional football player Mychal Rivera.
Mychal Rashawn Rivera was born in Los Angeles, California on September 8, 1990, making him three years younger than Naya. Attending Birmingham High School as a teen, his team nabbed the fourth-place spot in the state’s rankings during his senior year, in part, because of Mychal’s playing.
Originally agreeing to attend the University of Oregon, the ambitious athlete switched gears and went on to play for the University of Tennessee. However, Bleacher Report points out that he, quote, “was often overshadowed by other receivers.” The outlet also reported that while he,
“wasn’t in the same talent class as Justin Hunter or Cordarrelle Patterson, he still showed the ability to be a consistent threat on offense during his three seasons for the Volunteers.”
Rivera ended his college career with 76 receptions, 1,018 yards, and six touchdowns, drawing interest from multiple teams in the NFL.
When the selections were done and the deals were signed, Mychal was picked up by the Oakland Raiders as a sixth-round draft pick out of the University of Tennessee in 2013. Four years later, he committed to a two-year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars to the tune of about $6.75 million, but by March 2018, the tight end had become a free agent.
Whatever Mychal’s future in football (or otherwise) holds, it’s clear that his sister, Naya, has always been proud of him.
Naya Rivera went missing at a lake in Southern California, about 20 minutes from her birthplace in the San Clarita Valley, while out on a boat with her son in July 2020.
However, in the years before her disappearance, she made it perfectly clear how she felt about her brother, Mychal. Naya called him, quote, “the coolest, best brother in the world!” on social media and celebrated his birthdays with her followers. And then there’s the way she reacted when he scored his first touchdown for the Raiders, she could not have been more excited.
Mychal said he’s felt the love from his family from the start. He told Raiders Dot Com in 2013:
“They’ve always supported me throughout my whole career. Throughout my ups and downs, they’ve always been there. Naya has shown me a lot as far as her going on interviews and them saying, ‘No,’ and just bouncing right back up and continuing to be persistent and following your dreams.”
Despite their dreams leading them down different paths, it’s clear they shared similar levels of ambition, and a lot of love for one another. When interviewed by Tennessee Athletics about her brother in September 2012, Naya said:
Naya also discussed how she supports Mychal’s career, saying,
“I just encourage him, you know, and he appreciates the support…when I watch the games.”
The proud older sister also explained that she was,
“getting better about, like, memorizing what he’s doing, like, how many yards and catches and stuff.”
And the support was definitely mutual with Naya revealing,
“He watches [Glee] and then he’ll call and just be like, ‘That was really dope!'”
While they may have been on different paths, it’s clear that the bond these two siblings shared was strong, built on mutual respect and admiration. At the time of this writing, Mychal has not spoken publicly about his sister’s disappearance. Watch the video to learn The Untold Truth About Mychal Rivera, Naya Rivera’s Brother.
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