In a statement provided to People, Ryan paid tribute to the late Glee actress and shared how proud he knows she would be of their 6-year-old son, Josey. ET has reached out to Ryan's rep for comment.
"She knew how willing Josey was to share his things, but she'd be so proud to see how he'll give things he loves away to friends or donate them," Ryan, who was married to Naya from 2014 to 2018, said.
"He has this unique literal laugh-out-LOUD cackle of laugh when he's watching TV that's kind of obnoxiously endearing like hers was, but his even more so," he continued. "No matter your mood, it would make anyone smile if you heard it."
While it's been over a year since Naya's tragic death, Ryan said it still feels unreal to him.
"At least once a day I find myself shaking my head, like it's still unbelievable, so surreal that she's gone," Ryan shared. "She'd be freaking out today, I could almost hear her: 'OMG, I'm almost 40!' It's hard to write this, tears coming out my eyes. Unf**king real."
Naya went missing on July 8 following a boat ride with her then-4-year-old son on California's Lake Piru. Her body was recovered five days later. Naya's death was ruled an accidental drowning. She was laid to rest on July 24.
After making his statement, the Big Sky actor took to Instagram to post another tribute to Naya, sharing a black-and-white photo of her and Josey, along with a heartfelt poem in which he revealed that he when and visited his ex at her grave site.
"Made the visit today to see you, to spend some time. Up the hill I went, memories flashing through my mind as I drive…The end is inevitable for all of our lives, passing other people doing the same, I see some wiping tears out of their eyes…Approaching where you rest, bouquet of daisies and baby breath," Ryan began. "Trying to hold it together, feeling all I feel, eyes getting wet still can’t believe it’s real...Step by step walking by each marker it’s all so surreal, Getting closer gritting my teeth trying to keep it together…I look up in the sky and notice the weather…I suppose trying to distract my mind but reality comes back quick nobody knows…why. Why you had to leave us behind…I hope it gets easier as time goes by, but forever is forever, and I’ll never know why."
"You would’ve been XXXV," he continued, referencing Naya's 35th birthday. "Able to finally look at a couple videos today, I guess you can say I’m doing better…but better is just a better word for forever sad, this s**t is unbelievable forever."
In a video titled "allow me to reintroduce myself," posted on her YouTube two days before Naya's birthday, the 28-year-old model first touched on her background and upbringing, before sharing how Naya's death changed her life.
Nickayla expressed that she was mentally in a "dark place," worrying about her career and future. She then thought "2020 was going to be my year," until the family suffered the tragic loss.
"In July of 2020, my sister, Naya, passed away. And when that happened, I was in complete shock. My whole family was in complete shock," she said. "It was like someone pulled the rug from under us and we didn’t see it coming. The dark place that I was in before only progressed when that happened. At that time, I had no thoughts of my future. I had no thoughts of myself really. I was only just experiencing pain."
"I realized that the pain that I was experiencing wasn’t going to go anywhere until I decided to find the good in this world," she continued. "So, from then on, I went on this journey of discovering who I was. I started by quitting my vape that I had been smoking for two years."
And while quitting was "really hard," she felt "so empowered" and that she "could do anything after that." Nickayla also picked up journaling and started to write down her feelings, as well as going to therapy.
"I said no to doing a lot of things that I didn‘t want to do, but normally would for other people. I started putting myself first. I became mindful and observed how I felt each day," she shared. "I started asking myself the tough questions of, 'What’s stopping me from being myself? What past hurt am I still holding onto? And why am I not living like every day is a gift?' Because it is."
After answering all those questions to herself, her whole perspective changed. "I found myself. I can say that I am a completely changed person," she admitted, before encouraging people to live their life to the fullest because "the next moment is not promised."
Following Naya's death, Nickayla moved in with Ryan to take care of Josey, and while their living arrangement initially became tabloid fodder, a source told ET at the time that Nickayla and Ryan were not involved romantically and that she moved in to help care for her nephew and give him the best childhood possible alongside Ryan.
For more on Naya and how her family is remembering her legacy, watch the video below.