CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte native who held the crown of Miss USA and fought for social justice issues has passed away.
The family of Cheslie Kryst confirmed the passing on Sunday. She was 30 years old.
The following statement from the family was provided to WCNC Charlotte by email:
"In devastation and great sorrow, we share the passing of our beloved Cheslie. Her great light was one that inspired others around the world with her beauty and strength. She cared, she loved, she laughed and she shined. Cheslie embodied love and served others, whether through her work as an attorney fighting for social justice, as Miss USA and as a host on EXTRA. But most importantly, as a daughter, sister, friend, mentor and colleague – we know her impact will live on. As we reflect on our loss, the family asks for privacy at this time."
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Police in New York said Kryst jumped from a Manhattan apartment building and was pronounced dead at the scene Sunday morning. Her family confirmed her death in a statement. According to police, Kryst's body was found at approximately 7 a.m. Sunday in front of the Orion building, a high-rise on West 42nd Street in midtown Manhattan.
Thoughts and remembrances poured in on social media following the announcement.
Kryst, a former Division I athlete and North Carolina attorney, won the Miss USA pageant in May 2019 and competed in the Miss Universe pageant that year. When Kryst was crowned, it marked more than a personal triumph: It meant that for the first time, three Black women were the reigning Miss USA, Miss Teen USA and Miss America.
In a statement Sunday, the nationally syndicated program “Extra” called Kryst “not just a vital part of our show, she was a beloved part of our Extra family and touched the entire staff. Our deepest condolences to all her family and friends.”
Kryst grew up in the Carolinas and captivated the hearts of many. She is remembered for her bright smile, her beauty, and her strength. Her work as an attorney and community advocacy continues to inspire many.
“Cheslie was one of those people who just had a genuine, beautiful spirit... And you just, you fell in love with her at hello,” Portia Kee, who worked closely with Kryst on several charity and community events, said.
As an attorney, Kryst wanted women to feel empowered in the workforce and was very involved with Dress for Success Charlotte. Kryst worked closely with the organization helping women present their best selves for professional settings through workshops and various events.
“Her involvement with the organization, as a woman of color, as a successful businesswoman was so important," Dress for Success Charlotte Executive Director Kerry Barr O'Connor said. "It really did help others who were struggling along the way.”
If you or a loved one are facing thoughts of suicide or self-harm, there is help readily available. You can call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or chat with them online. There are also resources in North Carolina available here and in South Carolina available here.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.