Months after captivating viewers of The Voice and then making a sudden departure from the show, promising contestant, Anthony Riley has died. The well-known Philadelphia street performer was found dead in his apartment Friday. The Voice contestant’s cause of death is said to be an apparent suicide, according to a Fox News report.
Tootsie Iovine, identified as a “close family friend,” said Riley’s lifeless body was found in the basement of his Center City apartment. Iovine and her brothers own and operate shops in Reading Terminal, and were “like family” to Anthony.
There is no mention at this time of foul play of the 28-year-old entertainer. What is more, the prevailing information holds that the Voice contestant committed suicide.
Riley’s sister, Halima Miley, confirmed the death of her brother. She told reporters that her family has not made formal arrangements for a funeral or memorial service. She also spoke fondly of her brother.
“The city was his family. Everybody knew him, he couldn’t walk two steps without someone saying, ‘Anthony, how you doin’?’ The public loved him.”
Riley, 28, shook up the field of contestants when he set a record for the fastest judges chair-turnarounds in the history of the voice-style talent show. Even before his rendition of James Brown’s “I Feel Good,” the silky Voice contestant wowed the audience with some suave teaser footwork in “I’m ready to blow” fashion. And blow he did, with the finesse of a veteran performer.
The charming contestant eventually chose Pharrell as his voice coach. However, after winning a first round knockout in the Battle Round victory, Riley met with the show’s producers and talked about his ongoing struggles with drug addiction for the last two years.
After the meeting, and at NBC’s expense, they flew the singing sensation contestant from Los Angeles, the home of the Voice, back to his hometown. There, he entered Clarity Way, an alcohol and drug rehabilitation facility. It’s unknown if he was suicidal at the time as part of his struggles with depression.
In March, Riley openly addressed why he was no longer a contestant for the Voice. He spoke about the long work hours (14-16-hours at times) and the time away from family.
“The Voice has been a really great source of support. At the time, [being on the show] wasn’t working for me and I felt like I needed to go, instead of taking on more responsibility than I could handle.
“They made sure we understood what we were getting ourselves into. It’s stressful; there are a lot of days that can turn into lonely days.”
However, by all accounts, Anthony was embracing rehab and was on his road to a recovery from substance abuse. He wasn’t out of the woods yet, but he wanted his struggles to impact a larger picture. His suicide took many by surprise because he appeared so full of life on the outside.
“One of the reasons I’m proud of being of a Philadelphian is that we all have our own struggle, no matter what you do, no matter how far down you go, you can always make a comeback. I just hope someone hears this message. It’s not worth pursuing anything other than your dreams.”
After confirmation of the contestant’s suicide, a Voice rep released a statement of condolences.
“We are sad over the passing of Anthony Riley. We offer our deepest condolences to his friends and family during this very difficult time.”
[Photo: The Voice via YouTube screenshot]