‘Vanderpump Rules’ Stars Mourn Heartbreaking Loss

Vanderpump Rules

Heavy The Bravo stars lost a close friend.

Tom Sandoval and Ariana Madix are mourning the sudden death of a close friend. Less than three months after their breakup amid Sandoval’s cheating scandal,  the “Vanderpump Rules” stars posted separate tributes to their late mutual friend, Ali Rafiq.

Here’s what you need to know:

Ali Rafiq Was Tom Sandoval’s Childhood Best Friend

In an Instagram post on May 21, 2023, Sandoval shared a montage of photos of him and Rafiq. In one photo, Rafiq lounged in a hot tub and other photos showed him and Sandoval in the wedding party a friend’s wedding and hanging out together at music festivals. There was even a pic of Rafiq sitting in the sidecar of Sandoval’s famous Tom Tom motorcycle.

In the caption to the post, Sandoval wrote that he will always cherish “the beautiful memories, uncontrollable laughter, and epic experiences” he had with Rafiq. “You were my best friend, my brother,” he wrote. “I’ll catch u on the next sunrise…”

According to TMZ, Rafiq was Sandoval’s childhood best friend from St. Louis. He worked as a photographer. In a later report,  the outlet revealed that Rafiq was found dead at his parents’ home in St. Louis, but his cause of death has not been determined. Rafiq’s burial took place the day after his death, per Muslim religion, so Sandoval was not able to get to St. Louis in time. Instead, his parents attended the funeral and Facetimed him from the service.

Ariana Madix Posted a Tribute to Ali Rafiq on Her Instagram Story

Madix knew Rafiq for 10 years after meeting him through Sandoval, and it’s apparent she grew close to him over the decade she was in a relationship with the Schwartz & Sandy’s co-owner.

According to Page Six, in a now-expired Instagram story, Madix revealed that she had been planning to see Rafiq soon. “I keep wanting to text you,” she wrote to Rafiq in a message following his death. “It feels like this can’t even be real. we were just planning your trip to LA. talking about our futures and all the things we were looking forward to.”

She added that she will miss talking to her friend and sending each other memes. “I miss us both wanting to go home but still staying out and having fun,” she wrote. “I love you always and forever. i’m grateful for the moments we spent together and for the love and friendship you showed me over the last ten years.”

Several other “Vanderpump Rules“ stars followed Rafiq on Instagram, including Katie Maloney, Kristen Doute, and James Kennedy.

Sandoval spoke about Rafiq in a 2015 interview with Reality Tea. At the time, he complained that his ex, Doute, went “unbelievably far” to befriend Rafiq even after their split. “She went back to St. Louis and hit up my best friend, Ali, relentlessly until the point where he pretty much felt forced to hang out with her,” Sandoval said. “He just literally ran out of excuses and could not get away from her. And he’s like my brother – I’ve known him since I was a kid! We are really, really tight. And Kristen just hits him up relentlessly. I’m like: Dude!”

Rafiq also met some other people in the Bravoverse. In 2021, he posted an Instagram photo as he posed in the green room at “Watch What Happens Live” studio with Sandoval, Tom Schwartz, Bravo host Andy Cohen, and more. Like Sandoval and Rafiq, Cohen is also from St. Louis.

READ NEXT: ‘Vanderpump Rules’ Stars Relaunch Business