Former The Voice contestant and beloved Philadelphia street performer Anthony Riley was found dead on Friday of a suspected suicide. He was 28.
Riley, who left the reality TV singing competition in January to deal with substance abuse issues, was found dead in the basement of a Center City apartment in which he had been staying, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“The city was his family,” Halima Miley, Riley’s older sister, told the Inquirer, adding that the memorial service would be open to the public. “Everybody knew him, he couldn’t walk two steps without someone saying, ‘Anthony, how you doin’?’ The public loved him.”
Riley competed on the most current season of NBC singing competition The Voice, where he quickly became a fan favorite. After a soulful rendition of James Brown’s “I Feel Good,” all four judges on the show fought over who would get to work with him. Riley ultimately ended up working with pop star and mega-producer Pharrell Williams.
After completing the show’s first “battle round,” Riley reportedly told producers he was struggling with substance abuse and returned to Philadelphia to enter a rehabilitation program. He had reportedly been working on an album when he was found dead Friday.
“He’d had his problems recently,” fellow musician Robby Parsons told the Inquirer. “But at the heart of all that was a very kind, gentle person.”