Inside 'Vanderpump Rules' Star Tom Sandoval's Bond With Late Pal Ali Rafiq

Courtesy of Tom Sandoval/Instagram

Tom Sandoval and Ariana Madix had a close connection with Ali Rafiq before his tragic death.

Rafiq was friends with Sandoval, 41, before his rise to stardom on Vanderpump Rules. The Bravo series, which premiered in 2013, introduced viewers to the staff at Lisa Vanderpump‘s SUR restaurant. The attention quickly shifted to the interpersonal relationships between the costars — including Sandoval and Kristen Doute, who dated from 2007 to 2013.

After Sandoval and Doute, 40, split, he moved on with Madix, 38. They were together for nearly a decade before news broke in March 2023 that Sandoval cheated with Rachel “Raquel” Leviss, prompting the duo to call it quits.

Rafiq maintained bonds with both Doute and Madix following their respective splits from Sandoval. After Rafiq’s sudden passing in May 2023, Sandoval, Madix and Doute took to social media to honor their late friend.

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“Oh, it’s really sweet that they both cared for him so much and he cared for them so much, and he really respected and he was so proud of them,” Ali’s sister, Rabia Rafiq, told the US Sun in May 2023. “I’ve been showing my mom some of the Instagram tagged posts and all these memories that people have with him. It’s really nice because there’s all these pictures that we’ve never seen.”

She added: “It’s helping. It makes my parents feel better knowing that he was so loved.”

Keep scrolling to revisit Sandoval and Madix’s connection with Ali:

Sandoval and Ali’s Friendship

Revisiting Vanderpump Rules Stars Tom Sandoval and Ariana Madix s Bond With Late Friend Ali Rafiq 141
Courtesy of Tom Sandoval/Instagram

Before moving to Los Angeles, Sandoval grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, where he formed a friendship with Ali. The duo were pals since their high school days and stayed in touch when Sandoval moved to California to pursue a career in acting and modeling. Ali, meanwhile, prospered as a photographer.

What Led to Ali’s Tragic Death

Revisiting Vanderpump Rules Stars Tom Sandoval and Ariana Madix s Bond With Late Friend Ali Rafiq 137
Courtesy of Ali Rafiq/Instagram

In May 2023, Ali’s parents found him on the floor of their home in Missouri after he had a fall and hit his head on a table. His sister told TMZ that same month that Ali had no known illnesses other than asthma.

According to Rabia, Ali’s death certificate listed “organ failure” as the cause of death. His family, however, hoped toxicology reports would provide more information despite authorities saying there were no signs of foul play.

How Sandoval and Madix Honored Ali

Revisiting Vanderpump Rules Stars Tom Sandoval and Ariana Madix s Bond With Late Friend Ali Rafiq 135
Courtesy of Ali Rafiq/Instagram

Sandoval took to social media at the height of his cheating scandal to pay tribute to Ali.

“The love I have for you is way beyond words I will carry u forever in my heart,” he wrote via Instagram at the time. “Always cherishing the beautiful memories, uncontrollable laughter, and epic experiences we had together. You were My best friend, my brother. I’ll catch u on the next sunrise…5min/5hour 5or500.”

Madix, meanwhile, shared an emotional message about how much she missed Ali.

“I keep wanting to text you. 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. i miss our talks about life. i miss sending each other cat memes,” she wrote via her Instagram Story at the time. “I miss geeking out over food. or dj videos. i miss you bringing your turntables over. i miss us both wanting to go home but still staying out and having fun. i miss cut copy and chromeo songs.”

Madix continued: “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. You are so loved and you are so missed. i am proud to be able to say i know ali the great. because you ARE and will always be the greatest.”

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What Ali’s Family Said About His Cause of Death

Revisiting Vanderpump Rules Stars Tom Sandoval and Ariana Madix s Bond With Late Friend Ali Rafiq 138
Courtesy of Ali Rafiq/Instagram

“It’s human nature to ask, what happened, how did he die? The truth is, we don’t know how he died, we just found him and he was already gone,” Rabia said in an Instagram Story after Ali’s funeral service in May 2023. “We won’t have any answers from his tests for weeks, so we don’t know.”

How Ali’s Memory Has Been Honored

Revisiting Vanderpump Rules Stars Tom Sandoval and Ariana Madix s Bond With Late Friend Ali Rafiq 139
Courtesy of Ali Rafiq/InstagramCourtesy of Tom Sandoval/Instagram

In October 2023, Ali’s family members shared a post via his Instagram account, which read, “Today marks 5 months since Ali’s passing. It still seems surreal, like he will come back to us. One great thing that has happened in the last month is the completion of Ali’s water well, in a village in Pakistan that had no water resources.”

Ali’s loved ones thanked “everyone who donated at his celebration of life” for making an impact.

“Because of you all, these people now have access to clean water. The word ‘Marhoom’ means deceased. It is very painful to see that word in front of his name,” the post concluded. “Our Prophet has said ‘Whoever fulfilled the needs of his brother, God will fulfill his needs.’ Thank you to everyone who donated in my brother’s name. 🙏🏽 .”

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