The death of Leandro De Niro Rodriguez, the 19-year-old grandson of Robert De Niro, is under investigation by New York City authorities as a possible overdose after drugs and drug paraphernalia were found near his body, reports said.
The young actor was found dead Sunday afternoon, sitting in a chair inside a one-bedroom apartment in the posh Cipriani Club Residences on Wall Street, TMZ and the Daily Mail are reporting. A worried friend found Rodriguez while checking on him after not hearing from him for a few days. Citing a law enforcement source, the Daily Mail said that a white powdery substance was found on a plate near his body. TMZ reported that he was housesitting at the apartment.
Son of Drena De Niro and grandson of Robert De Niro, Leandro De Niro Rodriguez has died at the age of 19. https://t.co/XxsKmtJsI5
— Entertainment Weekly (@EW) July 3, 2023
Robert De Niro released a statement Monday, saying, “I’m deeply distressed by the passing of my beloved grandson Leo. We’re greatly appreciative of the condolences from everyone. We ask that we please be given privacy to grieve our loss of Leo.”
Rodriguez’s mother, Drena De Niro, initially confirmed her son’s death on Instagram Sunday night, suggesting his loved ones couldn’t help him with some kind of struggle he was dealing with. “I wish that love alone could have saved you,” she wrote. She shared no further details of his death, but expressed her heartbreak.
Drena De Niro, also an actor, called her son a “beautiful sweet angel.” She said, “I have loved you beyond words or description from the moment I felt you in my belly. You have been my joy my heart and all that was ever pure and real in my life. I wish I was with you right now. … I don’t know how to live without you but I’ll try to go on and spread the love and light that you so made me feel in getting to be your mama.”
Robert De Niro, who recently welcomed his seventh child at the age of 79 with girlfriend Tiffany Chen, later released a statement: “I’m deeply distressed by the passing of my beloved grandson Leo. We’re greatly appreciative of the condolences from everyone. We ask that we please be given privacy to grieve our loss of Leo.”
Drena Rodriguez was the oldest of Robert De Niro’s seven children, the New York Post reported. The “Taxi Driver” actor adopted her when he married her mother, actor Diahnne Abbott, in 1976. Drena De Niro took the famous actor’s surname, as she followed both her parents into the entertainment business, working as a model, and directing and appearing in a number of films. She and her then-boyfriend became parents to Rodriguez in 2003.
Her son, likewise, joined the family business and had begun landing roles in movies, notably in the 2018 film “A Star is Born.” He played the son of Bradley Cooper’s best friend, George “Noodles” Stone, played by Dave Chappelle.
Robert De Niro’s Grandson Leandro De Niro Rodriguez, Who Acted in ‘A Star Is Born,’ Dies at 19 https://t.co/4E353WTWIR
— Variety (@Variety) July 3, 2023
Rodriguez’s father, Carlos Rodriguez, said in a post: “Words aren’t enough to express the joy he gave us or the loss we now endure with our families and friends.”
Famous friends of the De Niro family also expressed their sadness over the young man’s death in reply to Drena De Niro’s Instagram post.
Victoria Gotti, the daughter of notorious mob boss John Gotti, said she was “heartbroken” and wrote of Rodriguez: “You were such a playful handsome amicable and amazing young boy who grew into an amazing young man!”
Actress Rosie Perez also wrote: “Shocked! I’m so sorry! We are all here for you !!! I love you too much!” Director and producer Lee Daniels sent a special message to Rodriguez’s mother, “Drena may God keep you in his arms.”
This story has been updated.
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