'Ru Paul's Drag Race' Personality Cherry Valentine Dead at 28

RuPaul's Drag Race star George Ward, aka Cherry Valentine, has died. His family made the announcement, without listing a cause of death. The beloved drag performer was 28. Ward gained notoriety after landing a spot in the second season of RuPaul's Drag Race UK — the British version of the hit US reality competition series. He then launched a career in TV and even had his own BBC documentary, Gypsy Queen and Proud. 

In a statement, his family wrote to fans: "It is with the most heart-wrenching and deepest sadness to inform you that our George — Cherry Valentine — has tragically passed away," the BBC reports. "This will come as a profound shock to most people and we understand there is no easy way for this to be announced. As his family, we are still processing his death and our lives will never be the same. We understand how much he is loved and how many lives he has inspired and touched. All we ask is for your patience and your prayers in this time. We love you Georgie," the family concluded.

During his time on the show, Valentine was open about growing into his own and his childhood. "I was always brought up that you'll find a wife, get married, you'll have some kids, you'll be the man of the family," the U.S. Sun reports. "So obviously, when I started having feelings of being gay and being different, that wasn't the right thing in my mind that I should be doing, but you can't help it, it's just who you are."

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Judges enjoyed him as well, but always provided constructive criticism. After one of his final performances, Valentine was told to work on masking his nerves. He found herself in the bottom two and had to lip sync against Tayce to Memory by Elaine Paige.