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Cheslie Kryst, a former Charlotte attorney and Miss USA, has died at age 30

 Cheslie Kryst
LEPR Agency
Cheslie Kryst

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (En Español: 1-888-628-9454; Deaf and Hard of Hearing: 1-800-799-4889) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

Cheslie Kryst, the 2019 winner of the Miss USA pageant and a correspondent for the entertainment news program “Extra,” has died at age 30. She had a long history in Charlotte, where she also practiced law.

Police said Kryst jumped from a Manhattan apartment building and was pronounced dead at the scene Sunday morning. Her family confirmed her death in a statement.

“In devastation and great sorrow, we share the passing of our beloved Cheslie. Her great light was one that inspired others around the world with her beauty and strength,” her family said.

“Cheslie embodied love and served others, whether through her work as an attorney fighting for social justice, as Miss USA and as a host on EXTRA. But most importantly, as a daughter, sister, friend, mentor and colleague – we know her impact will live on," her family said.

Kryst, a former attorney at Poyner Spruill in Charlotte, won the Miss USA pageant in May, 2019, and competed in the Miss Universe pageant that year.

She spoke with WFAE in 2019 about her role.

“Nowadays the role of pageantry is that women need to be role models and they need to be great examples for other people," Kryst said then. "I remember I went to an appearance when I was Miss North Carolina USA and someone came up to me and said it must be so hard to show up and be pretty and I thought to myself, you don’t understand like the other things that I do. I am a full-time attorney. I volunteer in my community and speak at events. That’s not my job to show up and be pretty.”

She was born in Michigan but grew up mostly in the Charlotte area and attended Fort Mill High in South Carolina. Her mother was named Mrs. North Carolina in 2002 in a pageant for married contestants.

"She was the second Black Mrs. North Carolina, so I remember being young and understanding the significance of her win," Kryst told WFAE in 2019. "Now it's exciting for me to know that my win ... is significant to other people, including little girls who are just like me looking up to people who look like them — people who are women of color. For me, that's incredibly exciting."

When Kryst was crowned, it marked more than a personal triumph: It meant that for the first time, three Black women were the reigning Miss USA, Miss Teen USA and Miss America.

In a statement Sunday, the nationally syndicated program “Extra” described Kryst as “not just a vital part of our show, she was a beloved part of our Extra family and touched the entire staff. Our deepest condolences to all her family and friends.”

Kryst provided commentary at last month's Miss Universe pageant, which called her “one of the brightest, warmest, and most kind people we have ever had the privilege of knowing. Our entire community mourns her loss.”

The University of South Carolina praised the former track athlete, calling her “a woman of many talents.” Kryst also held an MBA from Wake Forest University.

According to police, Kryst's body was found at approximately 7 a.m. Sunday in front of the Orion building, a high-rise on West 42nd Street in midtown Manhattan.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available for those in distress: 1-800-273-8255.

Copyright 2022 WFAE

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