News of Chadwick Boseman’s unexpected death sent a ripple of shock and sadness across the world. The 43-year-old actor’s death was announced on his social media accounts on Aug. 28. According to the official statement, the “Black Panther” star died of colon cancer — and he had been filming movies throughout his treatments for the disease.
“Chadwick was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016, and battled with it these last 4 years as it progressed to stage IV,” the statement read.
Boseman had not spoken of his diagnosis in public.
— Chadwick Boseman (@chadwickboseman) August 29, 2020
The combination of Boseman’s young age and his unknown cancer fight struck a chord on social media. Within moments of the announcement, fans and celebrities began sharing their memories, appreciation and condolences to his family.
Even days later, the final tweet on Boseman’s Twitter account continues to get likes, shares and comments. As of Aug. 29, the tweet was officially designated as the most liked Tweet ever by the social media platform.
Most liked Tweet ever.
— Twitter (@Twitter) August 29, 2020
Marvel Entertainment posted an image of Boseman as T’Challa in “Black Panther,” writing on Twitter, “Your legacy will live on forever. Rest in Peace.”
Our hearts are broken and our thoughts are with Chadwick Boseman’s family. Your legacy will live on forever. Rest In Peace. pic.twitter.com/YQMrEJy90x
— Marvel Entertainment (@Marvel) August 29, 2020
A number of Boseman’s “Avengers” co-stars shared their grief publicly.
Mark Ruffalo, who played The Hulk, posted a tribute to his co-star, highlighting how working with Boseman was “the highest honor.”
It was the highest honor getting to work with you and getting to know you. What a generous and sincere human being. You believed in the sacred nature of the work and gave your all. Much love to your family. And much love from all of us left here.
— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) August 29, 2020
Robert Downey Jr., who played Iron Man in the Marvel Universe movies, shared his memories about how Boseman made him laugh and wrote that he “leveled the playing field while fighting for his life.”
Mr. Boseman leveled the playing field while fighting for his life… That’s heroism. I’ll remember the good times, the laughter, and the way he changed the game… #chadwickforever @chadwickboseman pic.twitter.com/IFfCSmLrhR
— Robert Downey Jr (@RobertDowneyJr) August 29, 2020
Actor Chris Evans, who played Captain America, called Boseman “a deeply committed and constantly curious artist” in his Twitter tribute.
I’m absolutely devastated. This is beyond heartbreaking.
Chadwick was special. A true original. He was a deeply committed and constantly curious artist. He had so much amazing work still left to create. I’m endlessly grateful for our friendship. Rest in power, King💙 pic.twitter.com/oBERXlw66Z
— Chris Evans (@ChrisEvans) August 29, 2020
Brie Larson (Captain Marvel) tweeted the broken heart emoji and shared a few words about her co-star and friend.
“Chadwick was someone who radiated power and peace,” Larson wrote. “Who stood for so much more than himself. Who took the time to really see how you were doing and gave words of encouragement when you felt unsure. I’m honored to have the memories I have.”
— Brie Larson (@brielarson) August 29, 2020
In addition to playing the superhero Black Panther, Boseman portrayed sports legend Jackie Robinson in the movie “42,” singer James Brown in “Get on Up” and Thurgood Marshall in the movie “Marshall.” His work on screen helped advance the presence and power of African Americans in Hollywood.
Boseman also volunteered, visiting children, including those who were also sick with cancer. But, he never shared his own personal struggle with the disease. President Barack Obama highlighted Boseman’s service in his social media tribute.
Chadwick came to the White House to work with kids when he was playing Jackie Robinson. You could tell right away that he was blessed. To be young, gifted, and Black; to use that power to give them heroes to look up to; to do it all while in pain – what a use of his years. https://t.co/KazXV1e7l7
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 29, 2020
Oprah Winfrey also marveled at Boseman’s strength throughout his silent fight with terminal cancer, writing, “What a gentle gifted SOUL. Showing us all that Greatness in between surgeries and chemo.”
What a gentle gifted SOUL. Showing us all that Greatness in between surgeries and chemo. The courage, the strength, the Power it takes to do that. This is what Dignity looks like. https://t.co/U3OOnJVS42
— Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) August 29, 2020
Actress Kerry Washington shared that Boseman was “a warrior of light til the very end.”
A warrior of light til the very end. A true king. I am without words. May he rise in power. https://t.co/50nfbvZpAq
— kerry washington (@kerrywashington) August 29, 2020
One of the most moving tributes came from award-winning actress Angela Bassett, who shared a personal story about Boseman reminded her of how they met before they worked together in Hollywood.
“During the premiere party for ‘Black Panther,’ Chadwick reminded me of something,” Bassett wrote on Instagram. “He whispered that when I received my honorary degree from Howard University, his alma mater, he was the student assigned to escort me that day. And here we were, years later as friends and colleagues, enjoying the most glorious night ever! … I am honored that we enjoyed that full circle experience.”