Inside Chadwick Boseman's Life Before He Passed Away Too Soon

It's always difficult time when one of the greats passes away in the celeb world — especially when they leave behind admirable and ambitious work. Civil rights icon and politician John Lewis died in July 2020, and now another beloved social justice activist, actor Chadwick Boseman, has died at the young age of 43. His death on Aug. 28, 2020 sent shock waves of grief rippling through his worldwide fanbase and prompted a massive outpouring of tributes.

The Black Panther star's last appearance on social media in April 2020 had concerned some of his fans because he was looking slimmer than usual, but few knew that the talented actor had been battling colon cancer for the last four years of his life. Boseman chose to keep his diagnosis a secret from most of his Hollywood colleagues and fans. After his death, the actor's representatives revealed that he'd been diagnosed in 2016 and had endured chemotherapy and multiple surgeries.

Even though Boseman was privately fighting an aggressive illness, he spent the last years of his life dedicated to important and impactful work. Let's take a closer look at how Chadwick Boseman spent the last few years of his heroic life.

Chadwick Boseman possessed a superhero's work ethic

Much of Chadwick Boseman's time was spent dedicated to his craft — starring as key characters in hard-hitting movies. T'Challa's role in the hit movie Black Panther earned him blockbuster acclaim, but it was hardly the beginning of his success. According to a statement released by his representatives (via Cheatsheet), the year Chadwick Boseman was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer coincides with when Captain America: Civil War hit the big screens. Following that film, Boseman completed many other notable projects, including A Message for the King, Marshall, Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, 21 Bridges, Da 5 Bloods, and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom — Boseman's last movie. He did all that while fighting for his live — truly a heroic undertaking.

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, a movie produced by Denzel Washington, is slated to come out later this year on Netflix. The production is based on a play by August Wilson and also stars Viola Davis. Following Boseman's death, Davis took to Twitter to memorialize the man she'd formed a close bond with while working together. " words to express my devastation of losing you. Your talent, your spirit, your heart, your authenticity ... It was an honor working beside you, getting to know you," she said.

Chadwick Boseman left some projects unfinished

Chadwick Boseman had shown no signs of slowing down prior to his passing, continuing to take on projects. A week prior to his passing, Boseman announced that he would be producing a drama series based on the Little Rock Nine court case, per the Mirror. The mini-series, which examines the case's impact on racial segregation in education, is based on Carlotta Walls' memoir, A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High. Walls was one of the Little Rock Nine, meaning she was one of the first Black Americans to attend an all-white school in Little Rock, Ark., risking her life to do so after the historic court case Brown v. Board of Education

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the coming-of-age series is a display of "humor, family, friendship, and solidarity." The drama was co-produced by Seth MacFarlane in concert with NBC Universal.

Chadwick Boseman died surrounded by love

Chadwick Boseman also spent his last chapter of life surrounded by loved ones. "He died in his home, with his wife and family by his side," his team said in a statement

In fact, Boseman secretly wed his long-time girlfriend, singer Taylor Simon Ledward, in 2020, according to Page Six. The couple was first spotted together in 2015 and reportedly got engaged in 2019. Though he shielded his personal life from the spotlight, Ledward's grandmother gushed about the pair in 2018, telling InTouch that Boseman and Ledward "respect each other" and were "very happy."

In a rare moment of public acknowledgement about his private life, Boseman spoke about his feelings for Ledward as he accepting an NAACP Image award for outstanding actor in a motion picture in 2019. He kissed Ledward before the speech, and from the podium, he told addressed her directly. "Simone, you're with me every day. I have to acknowledge you right now. Love you," he said. 

As he fought for his life, Chadwick Boseman tried to save others

Chadwick Boseman fought colon cancer for years, but instead of sharing his own battle with the public, the social justice activist chose instead to devote his time and energy to helping save others. In one of his final social media posts (pictured above), the 42 star sought to provide personal protection equipment to front-line workers — particularly people of color — grappling with the coronavirus pandemic. 

"The statistics for COVID-19 have shown that the African-American community has been hit the hardest. The Latino community has been hit the hardest. And that's partially because we're the front-line workers. We're the ones still going to work. We're the ones still driving the buses," he said. "...In the medical field, we're the EMTs; we're the ones who are going to battle everyday." 

Boseman also used his platform to support the Black Lives Matter movement, draw attention to systemic racism, support Black-owned businesses, and call on Hollywood to put words into action. And true to his superhero ethos, he embraced his role-model status as the Black Panther, visiting with terminally ill children at St. Jude's Hospital — kids who had no idea their seemingly invincible hero was fighting the same battle. One of the few cracks Boseman displayed in his armor was the moment he broke down while talking about two boys he'd kept in touch with while filming Black Panther. Those boys had not lived long enough to see the movie.  

Boseman made sure he lived a life with purpose and passion. Rest in power, King.