In early August 2023, rumors swirled surrounding the alleged death of child rapper Lil Tay. After multiple reputable news outlets covered the news — which stemmed from a since-deleted Instagram post on the teenager's official account — her family reportedly shared a statement with TMZ debunking the claim, saying she was alive.
We reached out to the Instagram account from which the rumor started to independently verify TMZ's reporting. We will update this report when, or if, we receive a response. Below, we explain how the rumor about Lil Tay started, who disputed it, and authorities' answers to our questions about whether there was an active death investigation, as of this writing.
Here's How the Rumor Started
On Aug. 9, 2023, multiple reputable news outlets reported that child rapper Lil Tay had died. The reports were based on an Instagram post on the teenager's official profile.
The now-deleted Instagram post said:
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. This outcome was entirely unexpected, and has left us all in shock. Her brother's passing adds an even more unimaginable depth to our grief. 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 irreplaceable void that will be felt by all who knew and loved her.
Shortly after that statement appeared on the official Instagram account for Lil Tay, multiple news outlets published full obituaries detailing the teenager's life, including Deadline, Variety, and The Hollywood Reporter.
However, after those initial reports published, her father and ex-manager told Insider they could not confirm the legitimacy of the death announcement. Insider reported:
When reached for comment, Lil Tay's father, Christopher Hope, told Insider he could not comment on the Instagram post and declined to answer whether his daughter was still alive.
Similarly, Harry Tsang, the star's former manager told Insider the situation called for 'cautious consideration' and he could not confirm or deny the news currently.
'Given the complexities of the current circumstances, I am at a point where I cannot definitively confirm or dismiss the legitimacy of the statement issued by the family," Tsang told Insider in an emailed statement Wednesday. 'This situation calls for cautious consideration and respect for the sensitivities involved. My commitment remains focused on delivering updates that are both reliable and appropriately timed.'
Furthermore, we found no evidence of an investigation into the alleged death by authorities. (For all deaths, no matter their cause, local medical investigators document the identity of the deceased and other details via records that are generally available to the public upon request.)
According to Insider, the teenager was known to have lived in both Vancouver, British Colombia, and Los Angeles, California. We contacted medical investigators and police departments in both areas. The Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner told Snopes the agency did not have any reports matching the details outlined in the Instagram post. The Vancouver Police Department said it, too, was not aware of any death reports for Lil Tay, nor her brother, as of this writing. (If she or her brother died, it's possible it was in another jurisdiction.)
The Instagram Post Announcing Lil Tay's Alleged Death Has Been Removed
Then, on Aug. 10, the post was suddenly taken down. The circumstances under which it was initially posted, as well as removed, were unknown. We sent a message to the account with an interview request, and we will update this report when, or if, we receive a response.
Shortly after the post was removed, TMZ published an article with the headline, "Lil Tay I'm Not Dead." The article cited "a statement provided to TMZ from Tay's family." (As of this writing, no other news outlet had supposedly spoken to, or receive the alleged statement from, Lil Tay or representatives for her, amid swirling rumors of her purported death.)
According to TMZ, the statement appeared to quote Tay herself and said:
'I want to make it clear that my brother and I are safe and alive, but I'm completely heartbroken, and struggling to even find the right words to say. It's been a very traumatizing 24 hours. All day yesterday, I was bombarded with endless heartbreaking and tearful phone calls from loved ones all while trying to sort out this mess.'
According to TMZ, the statement claimed the Instagram account "was compromised by a 3rd party and used to spread jarring misinformation." TMZ later reported Meta had confirmed it had helped Lil Tay recover her account from the hacker, which a Meta spokesperson confirmed to us when we reached out to the company.
Again, we reached out to the account in attempt to independently verify TMZ's reporting. We will update this report should we receive new information.