What Happened to Lil Tay? Social Media Star’s Death Hoax

What happened to Lil Tay? Her Instagram account became inactive in 2018. In 2023, a post claimed she passed away, but it may just be a total sham.

Gabrielle Bernardini - Author
Lil Tay
Source: Instagram

In 2018, a then 9-year-old girl from Canada became an overnight social media sensation after posting controversial videos and pictures on Instagram. Claire Eileen Qi Hope, known as Lil Tay, became Insta-famous for depicting a lavish lifestyle and posting alongside expensive cars and houses while yelling crude and sometimes even racial slurs at the camera.

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Referring to herself as the youngest “flexer in the century,” Lil Tay had a massive Instagram fanbase. However, reported custody battles and brand rights seemingly put a stop to her social media “career.” Her account became inactive on social media in 2018 before briefly posting again in 2021 with a concerning message.

Then, in August 2023, a post appeared on her Instagram account announcing that the young star and her brother had both died.

What happened? Here’s what we know about the tragic situation so far.

Lil Tay standing next to a red car
Source: Instagram

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What happened to Lil Tay?

After months of uploading daily content to her social media pages, Lil Tay all but disappeared in the summer of 2018. According to the Daily Beast, at the time, the rapper’s Instagram alleged that her father, Christopher Hope, forced her to go back to Vancouver after filing a court motion.

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Lil Tay’s mother, Angela Tian, told the outlet that the pair had been separated since their daughter was just a year old and alluded the two did not have a strong relationship.

“He was threatening to arrest — to have my mom arrested if we didn’t go back,” the pre-teen told the Daily Beast. “I didn’t see him for multiple years. He never saw me for so long, it’s obvious he just came back because he wants money.” 

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Lil Tay holding money and wearing a bright blue hoodie and sunglasses
Source: Instagram

At the time she was court-ordered to go back to Canada, a spokesperson for Chris, Harry Tsang, told the outlet that the father wasn’t seeking to gain any monetary profit off of his daughter, but instead hoped to achieve three things. “First, no more crazy videos of cursing from Tay. Second, 25 percent of the gross earnings going to a trust fund dedicated to Tay. The third thing is, there has to be structure in her operation, in her public image,” he said.

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Later, fans became concerned for the young star after her Instagram account posted about «bad news» regarding Tay on April 21, 2021. Her Instagram stories featured a picture of her crying along with a message about alleged abuse and theft from dad Chris.

Fans speculated that her brother Jason Tian — who had been accused of coaching his little sister in her controversial videos — was behind these posts.

Their father continuously denied the claims against him.

During the December 2018 interview with the Daily Beast, Lil Tay didn’t go into many details about her home life but did say she was in a “bad situation” with “Chris Hope.”

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The then-fifth grader explained that she was being homeschooled because she was “too famous” for public school. “He knows that I’ll get mobbed,” she said. “He wants me to go to public school. I’m too famous for that.”

Many fans then assumed that Lil Tay had returned to her roots of living as a “normal” pre-teen in Canada, away from social media and cameras.

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On Aug. 9, 2023, a post on Lil Tay’s Instagram account announced that both Lil Tay and her brother had died. A cause of death was not given.

In a shocking post after years of radio silence on her Instagram account, it was announced that Lil Tay and her brother had passed away. The statement began:

«It is with a heavy heart that we share the devastating news of our beloved Claire’s tragic passing. We have no words to express the unbearable loss and indescribable pain. This outcome was entirely unexpected, and has left us all in shock. Her brother’s passing adds an even more unimaginable depth to our grief.»

It went on: «During this time of immense sorrow, we kindly as for privacy as we grieve this overwhelming loss, as the circumstances surrounding Claire and her brother’s passing are still under investigation. Claire will forever remain in our hearts, her absence leaving an irreplaceable void that will be felt by all who knew and loved her.»

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Lil Tay said her Instagram was hacked, but others aren’t so sure.

The day after the Instagram death announcement, TMZ reported that Lil Tay and her brother were, in fact, alive. «My Instagram account was compromised by a 3rd party and used to spread jarring misinformation and rumors regarding me,» she told the publication. «To the point that even my name was wrong. My legal name is Tay Tian, not ‘Claire Hope.'»

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Lil Tay reassured fans that she and her brother were both «safe and alive.» She also explained the stress that the situation put her through.

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«I’m completely heartbroken, and struggling to even find the right words to say. It’s been a very traumatizing 24 hours,» she said. «All day yesterday, I was bombarded with endless heartbreaking and tearful phone calls from loved ones all while trying to sort out this mess.»

However, some comments from Lil Tay’s former managers are definitely casting some speculation on the incident.

«The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about,» Diomi Cordero told The Mirror US. He was the manager who was working with Lil Tay in 2018 when her social media first went into radio silence. At the time, her posts had all been archived in a move that Diomi described to Buzzfeed News as the start of a «rebrand.»

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Harry Tsang, who was also a manager for Lil Tay, also had some insight into the situation. Originally, he had said that he couldn’t confirm nor deny the reports that she had died after speaking with people close to her.

When the news broke that Lil Tay was still alive, he was skeptical about the claim that she was hacked. Instead, he believes that her brother could be behind the move.

«I believe the reported hacking incident may not have occurred,» he told The Mirror. Harry thinks that there may have been an «alternative motive behind this occurrence.»

«Simultaneously, if the underlying motive is indeed to rekindle Lil Tay’s prominence within the public sphere, I contend that such actions demonstrate a certain degree of irresponsibility,» he warned.


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