Draven Rodriguez, the young New York Man whose quest to have his yearbook photo include his cat and lasers, has died of suicide, the Albany Times Union is reporting.
Draven’s story went viral in September 2014. According to this Inquisitr report, Mr. Rodriguez made international attention when he campaigned to have his high school yearbook photo include his beloved cat, Mr. Bigglesworth, with 80s-style lasers in the background.
“I don’t want to go in the yearbook with the generic ‘I-look-like-everyone-else’ photo. I wanted a ‘He looks great. Only he would try that’ photo.'”
— T.J. (@tjdegroat) September 12, 2014
Eventually, Draven and his principal, Diane Wilkinson, reached a compromise: the two would pose together with their pets — Draven with Mr. Bigglesworth, Wilkinson with her chihuahua — and the lasers in a separate photo.
On Saturday, Draven’s family confirmed that the 17-year-old had died and that the cause of death was suicide.
Before becoming known internationally for his mission to get his cat into his yearbook photo, Draven Rodriguez was known locally around Schenectady for his quick wit and his ease of making friends, said his father, Johnathan Stewart.
“He made friends wherever he went. He had friends all over the country — people he’d met at youth-leadership conferences, online, just around town.”
He was also best friends with two Persian restaurateurs, and learning about their experiences back in Iran helped Draven develop an appreciation for the less fortunate in the world.
“He had an empathy for the world and for other people that I think is rare in kids his age. It was wonderful to see.”
He was also obsessive about English and its proper usage in social media — something that he found sorely lacking in his teenage peers, said Stewart.
“He was a grammar Nazi. He’d always find mistakes on signs, menus — ‘Look, they’re not using the apostrophe right!’ He loved the English language.”
The Daily Gazette reports that Draven was also involved in community projects, particularly with an anti-bullying group.
“I try to have a big sense of community, so doing things that are locally based means a lot to me.”
As of this post, Draven’s “laser cat” compromise yearbook is still scheduled to appear in his yearbook, which will be published later this year.
[Images courtesy of: WFAA, Laugh Spin]