How Cheslie Kryst was honored at the 2022 Miss USA pageant
- The 2022 Miss USA pageant was held in Reno, Nevada, where Cheslie Kryst was crowned in 2019.
- Kryst died in January at the age of 30.
A new Miss USA was crowned at the Grand Sierra Resort and Spa in Reno, Nevada, on Monday night, just as Cheslie Kryst had been three years prior.
And Kryst's legacy was clear during the 2022 pageant as tributes poured in for the former beauty queen, who died by suicide in January. She was 30 years old.
Crystle Stewart, Miss USA 2008 and the current president of the Miss USA organization, previously told E! News that Reno was chosen for this year's competition in honor of Kryst.
The pageant opened with the message "In honor of Cheslie Kryst," and later in the evening, FYI correspondent Christian Murphy gave a speech about Kryst's impact on the pageant world.
"If you're lucky in life, you get the chance to know someone who lights up a room, makes every moment seem better, and makes you feel important with a simple gesture or a word," Murphy said. "That was Cheslie Kryst."
"Now, I had the privilege to work alongside her, and her accomplishments were literally endless," Murphy went on to say. "Cheslie was crowned Miss USA 2019. And in the words of her family, she 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. Most importantly as a daughter, sister, friend, mentor, and colleague."
"We know her influence will live on, and tonight we honor Cheslie," he said. "We were lucky to have her if for only what seems like a fleeting moment, and even more blessed that her light lives on."
Murphy's statements were followed by a moment of silence by the live audience at the pageant.
Kryst, who represented North Carolina during the 2019 Miss USA, became part of an iconic quartet after taking the crown. Her year marked the first time Miss Universe, Miss USA, Miss Teen USA, and Miss America were all women of color.
"I just think this is an important moment," she told Insider at the time. "And maybe people can carry this inspiration into other areas of their lives."
Kryst also made history as the oldest woman to win Miss USA. She would go on to make the top 10 at Miss Universe that year.
Kryst was working as a host on Extra at the time of her death. She was also a complex-litigation attorney who worked pro bono with clients serving long sentences for low-level drug offenses.
She helped free one client who had been sentenced to life in prison and also spent years raising funds for the nonprofits Dress for Success and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.
April Simpkins, Kryst's mother, said the pageant queen had high-functioning depression and hid it from everyone "until very shortly before her death."
During an interview on "Red Table Talk," Simpkins revealed that Kryst had been "blindsided" by online criticism after winning Miss USA.
Simpkins said she hopes that by sharing more of Kryst's story, she can "encourage people to be kinder."
"People aren't kind sometimes to those who have mental challenges," she said. "And Cheslie knew that."
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