Schenectady High senior known for ‘laser cat’ photo remembered as full of light and laughter

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10)– A boy, his cat, and a desire to be remembered as something different.

It was a dream that sparked an international media sensation this fall. It’s hard to imagine someone who brought so much light and laughter, is now gone. Following the death of Draven Rodriguez, a 17-year-old Schenectady High School senior who went viral last year, we spoke to the photographer who took the iconic shot to find out more about his life and the legacy he’s leaving behind.

Draven grabbed national attention last September – affectionately known as the “laser cat” kid – posing with his beloved cat Mr. Bigglesworth. The photographer who took the iconic photo says what stands out from the two shoots and the time he spent with Draven was his sense of humor, his intellect and his vast cultural awareness for someone so young.

Police and his family declined to comment on his death, but from talking to those who knew him it was clear this creative 17-year-old will be dearly missed.

The original photo sparked a second shoot with Draven’s principal Diane Wilkinson for the yearbook; with proceeds going to the animal protection foundation in Glenville. The leader of the Schenectady County Protection of Cruelty to Animals, Greg Rickey, says Draven’s love of man’s best friend will continue to be felt long after his passing.

Rickney says “Donations went up, and a lot more people came forward and wanted to volunteer with our organization, so he did a lot for us.”

Schenectady schools will have grief counseling available for students at the high school from 12 p.m. until 4 p.m. Sunday.

Our deepest condolences go out to the friends and family of Draven Rodriguez.

Schenectady High School issued the following statement:

Our thoughts and condolences go out to the family of Draven Rodriquez during this difficult time.  We will continue to respect their request for privacy.

Schenectady High School has implemented a crisis response plan to support our students and staff.  The school counselors, social workers and psychologists will continue to be on hand and available during this time of grief.  In addition to offering grief counseling services during the school day, the school will be open to students on February 23 and February 24 from 4-8 p.m.  

In a time like this it is important to always remember that you are not alone, and there is help available.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1 (800) 273-8255
24 hours, 7 days a week

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