Teen who made cat yearbook photo go viral commits suicide: report

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SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — A high school senior who became an Internet sensation for his proposal of a unique yearbook photo has reportedly died from an apparent suicide.

According to the Times Union in Albany, N.Y., Draven Rodriguez, 17, died Thursday at his home. The cause of death was a suicide, his parents said.

Rodriguez made national news last fall after he requested to take an ’80s style laser portrait with his cat, Mr. Bigglesworth, for the yearbook.

The school initially had said the photo wouldn’t pass. But after an online petition, Schenetady High School in New York said it would allow it, so long as the principal would join in on the photo with her dog.

The teen’s wit gained notoriety across the country. But his parents said it was his kindness that went even further.

“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.”

The Times Union reports Rodriguez explored many interests, including teaching himself guitar, learning words from a Russian-English dictionary and rowing crew.

His proposed yearbook photo, which made rounds on late night talk shows, wasn’t an act of defiance, but rather an example of his cleverness.

“He wasn’t trying to stir things up with it,” Stewart told the Times Union. “He honestly just wanted a silly photo because he had a great sense of humor.”

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