On Thursday, Tay’s family provided a statement to TMZ that began with, “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.”
The statement continued, “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.”
It also claimed that Tay’s Instagram account was hacked by a third party, pointing out how the fake death announcement listed her legal name as Claire Hope instead of Tay Tian.
Fans learned of Tay’s fake death on Wednesday through an Instagram post, which revealed that her brother had also died.
“It is with a heavy heart that we share the devastating news of our beloved Claire’s sudden and tragic passing,” the post read.
“We have no words to express the unbearable loss and indescribable pain. This outcome was entirely unexpected and has left us all in shock.”
The Canadian pre-teen rose to stardom in 2017 at the age of 9. Her association with trending rappers, social media antics and crowning herself the “youngest flexer of the century” helped her gain over 3 million followers.
Her shock value included videos with massive amounts of cash and kicking a dent in the side of a $200,000 luxury car to prove she’d bought it rather than renting it despite being too young to drive.
In 2018, her brash online persona went too far when her content often showed her using controversial language and slurs such as the N-word.
According to the New York Post, she issued a public apology for her use of derogatory language, saying: “I really apologize to everyone I offended…I’m not racist at all,” during an episode of her short-lived reality series Life with Tay, which streamed on the Zeus Network.
Her last Instagram post was in June 2018.
Variety stated the teen’s disappearance from the public eye was possible due to a custody battle between her parents.
A suspicious Instagram Story with the words “help me” launched speculations about her family situation and safety.
Tay’s Instagram was wiped clean until months later when a series of abuse allegations against her father, Christopher Hope, was reportedly posted to her page.
The post insinuated her father had court-ordered the teen to return to Canada to profit from her.
In a 2018 interview with The Daily Beast, her lawyer claimed the allegations were fabricated.
The outlet followed up with the young teen to get her story. The influencer and her mother, Angela Tian, refrained from divulging too much information.
“Right now I’m in a bad situation and I don’t want to talk about these things,” she said at the time.
The family drama was quiet until 2021 when Tay’s older brother, Jason Tian, posted a GoFundMe campaign seeking $19,000.
He claimed the young girl needed financial support in court to combat her “abusive” and “absentee” father.