Anthony Riley, a Philadelphia street performer and former contestant on The Voice, was found dead on Friday, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. He was 28. Riley reportedly took his own life.
His friend said that he was found in his apartment after an apparent suicide, as reported by Hollywood Reporter. He left NBC’s popular singing competition in January to deal with substance-abuse issues in a rehab facility, according to Yahoo.
A rep for NBC issued a statement saying, “We are sad over the passing of Anthony Riley. We offer our deepest condolences to his friends and family during this very difficult time.”
Riley’s sister, Halima Miley, stated that the family has not yet made funeral arrangements. She said there would be a memorial open to the public. She added that the “public loved him” and that the “city was his family.”
Riley was definitely a hit on season 8 of The Voice. After receiving the sought-after four-chair turn during his blind audition, he the coaches fighting over him. He ended up going with Team Pharrell Williams. He performed a high-energy rendition of I Got You (I Feel Good) by James Brown that Williams called “electric.”
From there, he proved that his vocal ability and star quality could have taken him to the finale. He won his first battle round before taking his voluntary leave.
Riley said that he could not handle the stress and long hours it takes to be on the show. However, he said the show was a “really great source of support.”
In March, he told The Inquirer that it was “tough” because everyone was “just finding out” and he was “moving forward.” At that point, he had completed his rehabilitation program and started working on an album.
Not only was a hit on The Voice, but he was also a hit in Philadelphia. In 2014, Riley was named the Best Street Performer in Philadelphia by Philadelphia Magazine.
One of Riley’s fellow musicians, Robby Parsons, said that Riley was a “very kind, gentle person.” He added that Riley was much like Robin Williams in that he smiled and meant it, and he was someone who “made so many people happy, but didn’t know how to make himself happy.”
Riley was one of my favorites from the beginning. His clear tone, amazing dance moves and charming smile made the few performances we were able to see extremely entertaining. Though there was amazing talent this season, I think Riley could have won it all. It was sad to see him leave, and it was tragic to hear of the death of such a talented performer.