Child rapper and internet star Lil Tay confirmed she and her brother are alive and have not died following a statement posted to her Instagram account on Aug. 9 that claimed they had passed away. Lil Tay became a viral child star at age 9 for her social media posts, in which she brazenly used expletives as she flaunted her wealth. The statement posted on her Instagram — which Lil Tay said was hacked — was assumed to have been written by her family, and referred to her as “Claire.”
In a statement to TMZ, Lil Tay 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.” She added, “My Instagram account was compromised by a third party and used to spread jarring misinformation and rumors regarding me, to the point that even my name was wrong. My legal name is Tay Tian, not ‘Claire Hope.'”
The now-debunked Aug. 9 statement on Lil Tay’s Instagram read, “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.” The statement also claimed that Tian’s brother has passed away, continuing, “Her brother’s passing adds an even more unimaginable depth to our grief.”
While fans had begun to mourn Tian and her brother, and many media outlets reported on the statement, suspicions began to arise when both her father and ex-manager would not publicly confirm her death. Harry Tsang, a former manager of Lil Tay’s, gave a statement to The Daily Beast on Aug. 9, saying, “I have been in communication with individuals who have an intimate understanding of the family’s situation. 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.” He also posted a TikTok video suggesting that he thought the news of her death was not entirely accurate.
Tian’s father, Christopher Hope, also declined to confirm or deny the Instagram post’s claims when reached out to by Insider, who also reported that neither the Vancouver Police Department nor the Los Angeles Police Department had any information on an investigation into the death of a Claire Hope (the original statement claimed that “the circumstances surrounding Claire and her brother’s passing are still under investigation”).
Lil Tay’s image and rap career is associated with expensive cars, stacks of money held up to her ear, and online feuds with YouTubers like RiceGum. She released her song “Money Way” in 2018. Her internet stardom helped her amass 3.3 million followers on Instagram and 221K subscribers on YouTube. Lil Tay describes herself in her videos as “the youngest flexer of the century.” Her spotlight burned so bright that in 2018, Zeus Network produced a three-episode mini-docuseries about her life called Life With Lil Tay. The series gave fans an inside look into Hope’s off-screen life sans her Lil Tay persona.