The Tragic Death Of Sofia Vergara's Brother

Sofía Vergara traveled a long path before achieving the household-name status that she's used to today. The actress was born in Colombia, and despite appearing in commercials as a teenager, she went to dental school with the intention of making a career from teeth. A pregnancy and divorce landed her in Bogota — Colombia's capital and largest city — and before long, she was modeling, and then acting. Vergara was eventually offered work in Miami, which according to the New York Post, she readily accepted, viewing the United States as a safer place to raise her son than Bogota.

It's not hard to understand why she felt this way. Despite the immense professional success Vergara achieved in this period, her personal life was marked by tragedy. In 2000, the actress was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, resulting in the removal of her thyroid and radioactive iodine treatment. She also watched her brother, Julio, battle addiction for nearly a decade. He was deported from the United States in 2011 following an arrest. Vergara likened his disease "to see[ing] somebody dying over 10 years, little by little," according to Parade.

Julio's struggle did not come out of nowhere, however; Vergara said it was triggered by the untimely death of her other brother, Rafael.

Sofía Vergara's brother was killed in a botched kidnapping

At 27 years old, Sofía Vergara's brother, Rafael, was murdered in their hometown. Vergara described the incident to Parade as "a nightmare." The actress explained (via the New York Post), "We come from a successful family, and he knew he was a target for kidnapping. He always had bodyguards." One day, however, Rafael ventured out without security guards, and was shot dead.

His murder was obviously incredibly difficult for the rest of the family, inspiring Sofía to move the rest of her clan to Miami so they could be together. "Mother was like a zombie," Vergara told Parade. "I wanted to be with them. So I got a big house and we all lived together," the actress said, concluding, "I am so grateful to be in this country."

Vergara said that losing her brother, in addition to the other challenges she has faced, have only made her a stronger person. "With so many bad things happening, it creates a tough skin," Vergara claimed. "You just have to take a deep breath and keep on going—if not for yourself, then for everybody you love."