Seventeen-year-old Draven Rodriguez, who became an internet folk hero when he successfully lobbied to have his cat and some colorful laser beams included in his senior yearbook photo, died on Thursday. His parents told the Times Union that the Schenectady High School student committed suicide. “He made friends wherever he went. He had friends all over the country — people he’d met at youth-leadership conferences, online, just around town,” said Draven’s father, Jonathan Stewart. “He had an empathy for the world and for other people that I think is rare in kids his age.” Of his son’s viral image, Stewart said, “He wasn’t trying to stir things up with it. He honestly just wanted a silly photo because he had a great sense of humor.” Stewart said he believes Draven’s page will still appear in this spring’s yearbook.
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