Classmates, coaches and friends remember Miss USA Cheslie Kryst, who died Sunday at age 30

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Classmates, coaches and friends remembered Miss USA Cheslie Kryst on Monday, a day after her death, as a warm, compassionate and accomplished person.

Before Kryst made history on the Miss USA stage, she was a lawyer in Charlotte, an MBA graduate from Wake Forest University, and a track and field star at the University of South Carolina.

Her track coach, Curtis Frye, said she was a mental health advocate and didn't mind speaking up for others.

"She always asked questions that made us better and made me better," said Frye.

In 2019, after winning the Miss USA crown, Kryst returned to USC speaking to her fellow teammates during a homecoming banquet about having what she calls "mental toughness."

"What confidence is -- is an unshakable, unwavering belief in yourself," Kryst said at the time.

Aalayah Sanders, from Durham, was a classmate of Kryst's and a fellow track-and-field athlete. She was in the room that day Kryst spoke.

"The humbleness of her spirit, that really touched me," Sanders said. "I just saw so much of myself in Cheslie. And just to see the impact she's had on others' lives was truly touching and inspiring to let me know that it's possible, and women like us do exist. We are needed in our society to motivate other young women, especially young women of color. "

Wake Forest Univesity's School of Law and School of Business also mourned Kryst's passing.

"We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Cheslie Kryst, who was a treasured friend, classmate, and mentor to so many in our Wake Forest Law community," said Wake Forest Law Dean Jane Aiken. "She was a persistent advocate for social justice, and her kindness, generosity, and inspiring spirit left a lasting impact on all those who had the privilege of knowing her. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Cheslie's family and loved ones."

On Monday, the medical examiner in New York confirmed that Kryst died by suicide from multiple blunt impact injuries.

New York Police said she jumped from a high-rise apartment building. Her body was found Sunday morning.

On her last post on Instagram, Kryst wrote just hours before her death: "May this day bring you rest and peace."

Ryan Miles met Kryst through their work with Miss North Carolina USA.

He said that he briefly chatted with Kryst via text last month in real-time as she was co-hosting the Miss Universe pageant.

Miles said there was no indication that something was wrong.

"That's the most scary thing about it," Miles said. "She has such amazing warmth and depth, and you feel like she has everything put together. She is one of the most accomplished women I ever met -- people -- I ever met.

Kryst was 30 years old.

Last year in an Allure op-ed, she wrote about the pressures of getting older.

Here are some of the sentences she wrote:

A grinning, crinkly-eyed glance at my achievements thus far makes me giddy about laying the groundwork for more, but turning 30 feels like a cold reminder that I'm running out of time to matter in society's eyes -- and it's infuriating.

From the moment I won, my reign ignited a heightened desire to commit myself to passion, intent, and authenticity ... I fed the passion that made waking up each morning feel worthwhile: speaking out against injustice.

I now enter year 30 searching for joy and purpose on my own terms - and that feels like my own sweet victory.


If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at (800) 273-TALK or visit online.
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