In the wake of her cousin’s fatal shooting, taking place one day after Christmas, Rihanna and her family celebrated the life of Tavon Alleyne with a ceremonial toast.
“For Tavon,” Rihanna, 29, said as she and her kin raised their shot glasses in memory of the family member who wasn’t there. Ri’s cousin, Tavon Kaiseen Alleyne, 21, was shot and killed in Barbados one day after Christmas. The “Work” singer led the memorial, which was uploaded to social media, per The Shade Room. With their hearts heavy due to tragedy, Rihanna and her family gulps down the drink, adding “Love, peace” to the end of the memorial toast.
Rihanna shared the heartbreaking news of her cousin’s death on Dec. 26, posting a picture of them together to her Instagram. “Can’t believe it was just last night that I held you in my arms! Never thought that would be the last time I felt the warmth in your body.” Though Rihanna didn’t name Tavon or said how he died, she attended the hashtag #endgunviolence to the end of the post. Tavon was walking by a track near his home in St. Michaels, Barbados, when he was reportedly shot multiple times, per Billboard. Tavon was rushed to the hospital, but it would be too late. He would succumb to his injuries. The suspected shooter fled the scene and authorities are still on the search for Tavon’s killer.
Tavon was tagged in Rihanna’s post, and his Instagram account (now private) reportedly included a message he sent his cousin on her 29th birthday. “Every day we are happy to have you in our lives,” he wrote, celebrating the close connection he and Rihanna had. “Your presence in my life is a source of joy and happiness.”
Hopefully, Rihanna’s home country heeds her call for the end of gun violence. Barbados, an island with a population just under 300,000, saw a dramatic rise in gun-related murders in 2017 (gun were used in 15 of the 19 murders by July, a 72% increase according to the St. Lucia Times.) While that may not seem like a lot, since America had 38,000 gun deaths in 2016 – two-thirds of which were considered suicide, according to Slate, by the way – any family suffering a horrific shooting feels the impact of gun violence.
Our thoughts are with Rihanna’s family during their time of loss.