Tahj Mowry is speaking on his relationship with ex-girlfriend Naya Rivera nearly one year after her tragic passing.
The 34-year-old paid tribute to the late Glee star in a recent interview with Glamour, referring to Rivera as his “first celebrity crush.”
The actor--who co-starred with Naya in the sitcom Smart Guy and dated her between 2000 to 2004--called the news of her death last year “really, really rough,” going on the emphasize the importance of their relationship to his life.
“I have so much respect for her family,” he told the publication. “I still am in communication with them, so I just want to make sure I’m respectful of that and what her family is going through.”
He continued, “She was definitely my first everything. I think subconsciously it’s why I never really date like that because no one really ever... I know someday someone might, but it’s hard to measure up to the type of girl and woman she was.”
Mowry went on to tell Glamour that he still has a hard time talking about Rivera while trying to encompass all that she meant to the people who loved her.
“It‘s a hard thing to talk about, because to think about her mother and her ex-husband, her child and her sister and her brother…the height of what they went through is times a thousand,” he said. “I almost feel like I can’t even talk about my feelings because they don’t even measure up to the pain that they went through and are still going through. But yes, much love to her entire family - her brother, her sister, her child, and her ex-husband as well.”
Naya Rivera was confirmed dead in July 2020, five days after disappearing during a trip to a California lake with her son Josey.
Last year, as police were searching for the actress on the lake, Mowry shared an emotional post in honor of his ex-girlfriend, hoping she would be found alive.
“We grew up together. We became adults together. We experienced so many firsts together,” he wrote at the time. “You were my first experience with everything; love, intimacy, heartbreak. We broke each others hearts and then mended them back together...more than once.”
He continued, “I will never not think of you. No woman has ever measured up what you gave me or how you made me feel. I’ve never liked to admit it but I have never stopped loving you. A part of me always wished for the day where God would bring us back together to be what we dreamt we could have been.”