The Tragic 1998 Murder Of Sofia Vergara's Brother

Sofia Vergara, best known for her role as Gloria on "Modern Family," is also known for her vivacious and bright personality. However, early on in her career, something happened that would change everything. In the late '90s, Vergara and her family were struck by tragedy when her brother died by gunshot in 1998 at the age of 27. Speaking to Parade about the incident in 2011, Vergara stated that the tragic event occurred as part of an attempted kidnapping.

 "My older brother, Rafael, was killed in Columbia," she shared, calling the situation "a nightmare." This was no random incident, though. As reported by the New York Post, Vergara has said that her family were always influential in her home country. "We come from a successful family, and he knew he was a target for kidnapping," the actor said. "He always had bodyguards. Then one day he went out alone and was shot dead ... I was devastated."

She has spoken about the struggles her family faced following the murder

Sofia Vergara went on to say that she moved her family in to her Miami home following the incident. "Mother was like a zombie," she told Parade. "I wanted to be with them. So I got a big house and we all lived together. I am so grateful to be in this country." Vergara added that her brother Julio especially had a rough time following Rafael's death, saying "They were very close." When Julio left for college, still struggling with his grief, Vergara opened up about how he became addicted to drugs.

At the time of the interview, Vergara mentioned that Julio was still struggling with addiction but that she was trying her best to help him. According to Mail Online, Julio was deported to Columbia in 2011 following a staggering 30 arrests over drug-related charges. Vergara spoke candidly to Parade about how she coped with it all. "With so many bad things happening, it creates a tough skin. You just have to take a deep breath and keep on going—if not for yourself, then for everybody you love."  

The actor and television personality shared a touching moment with a contestant

In a 2020 episode of "America's Got Talent," Vergara recalled her brother's death once again when a contestant named Brandon Leake performed a spoken-word poem about love. Within the poem, Leake focuses on the death of his sister, saying, "Still alive, and all the things I wish we could have done are played again and again and again. I'm tired of playing God 'cause I gotta come to terms with the fact that my sister ain't never comin' back."

Vergara called Leake's performance "very beautiful," saying, "My brother passed away the same year that your sister passed away. I can feel your pain. I know what this is. I know what it is to have somebody taken from you without you knowing." Vergara wasn't the only one affected by the performance, which earned Leake a Golden Buzzer from fellow judge Howie Mandel. Later on, she referenced the performance again with a video of Leake getting the buzzer on X (formerly known as Twitter), and the caption "what a great way to end the night!!!" alongside star and party emojis.