SCHENECTADY, New York (PIX11) — The high school senior, who became an internet sensation after he proposed to take an 80s style laser portrait with his cat for the yearbook, has died of an apparent suicide, his parents told the Times Union . He was 17 years old.
Draven Rodriguez caused a digital stir in the fall when he requested to take the unique photo with his cat, Mr. Bigglesworth.
“I don’t want to go in the yearbook with the generic ‘I look like everyone else’ photo,” Rodriguez told the Daily Gazette in September. “I wanted a ‘He looks great. Only he would try that’ photo.”
A spokesperson for Schenetady High School initially said the photo wouldn’t be allowed in the portrait section of the high school, but after an online petition garnered several thousand signatures, school officials relented.
But under one condition: the principal of the school would join in on the photo with her dog, Vivan.
In a Facebook post from Jan. 29, Rodriguez quoted the Iranian co-owner of a restaurant he frequented, writing, “We are all people, and we should help each other out.”
“He made friends wherever he went,” Rodriguez’s father, Jonathan Stewart, told the Times Union. “He had friends all over the country — people he’d met at youth-leadership conferences, online, just around town.”
“He wasn’t trying to stir things up with it,” Stewart said of his son’s yearbook portrait. “He honestly just wanted a silly photo because he had a great sense of humor.”