What We've Learned About Chadwick Boseman Since His Death

On Aug. 28, 2020, the world mourned when it was announced that Marvel star Chadwick Boseman had died at the age of 43. "It is with immeasurable grief that we confirm the passing of Chadwick Boseman ...⁣ It was the honor of his career to bring King T'Challa to life in Black Panther," his family shared in a statement. "He died in his home, with his wife and family by his side. ⁣The family thanks you for your love and prayers, and asks that you continue to respect their privacy during this difficult time."

The acclaimed actor, who embodied historical figures and comic book heroes with ease, seemed to have an entire career ahead of him, as well as a chance to cement himself as one of the greatest actors of all-time. "Because I said no at certain times," Boseman once said, "it made me available for the things that got me to where I am." Sadly, his brief life and career were tragically cut short by a horrible disease. 

Boseman left behind a legacy of powerful performances and millions of fans struggling to understand such an unexpected loss. Here's what we've learned about Chadwick Boseman since his death.

Chadwick Boseman kept his cancer diagnosis private

The reveal of Chadwick Boseman's serious health issues came as a shock to fans worldwide, since his four-year battle with colon cancer was announced after he passed. According to the actor's family, the illness progressively became worse. 

"Chadwick was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016, and battled with it these last 4 years as it progressed to stage IV," their statement read in part. "A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much. From Marshall to Da 5 Bloods, August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and several more, all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy."

Let's put this into perspective: Boseman worked on seven films — including Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and 21 Bridge — while fighting a deadly disease. "Mr. Boseman leveled the playing field while fighting for his life," fellow Avenger Robert Downey Jr. wrote on Twitter following Boseman's passing. "That's heroism. I'll remember the good times, the laughter, and the way he changed the game." We couldn't agree more.

Chadwick Boseman secretly married his longtime girlfriend prior to his death

In addition to keeping his illness private, Chadwick Boseman also married his longtime girlfriend, singer Taylor Simone Ledward, who was "by his side" at the time of his untimely passing, the actor's family revealed in their statement. While Boseman and Ledward never publicly announced their marriage, Page Six reports that the pair started dating sometime in 2015 and had gotten engaged in the fall of 2019.

For his part, Boseman never passed up an opportunity to publicly proclaim his love for her. While accepting an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in 2019, he said (via Page Six), "Simone, you're with me every day. I have to acknowledge you right now. Love you." Ledward's grandmother was a huge fan of the couple, who made their last public appearance together at the 2020 NBA All-Star Game. "They respect each other," she told InTouch in 2018. "She's very happy, and he is, too." 

The fact that the private star concealed a cancer diagnosis and a marriage from the media, despite being one of the most recognizable faces on the planet, says a lot about the love and loyalty Boseman inspired within his inner circle.

Chadwick Boseman died on Jackie Robinson Day

Seven years after playing legendary baseball player Jackie Robinson in the film 42, Chadwick Boseman died on the same day Major League Baseball celebrated Jackie Robinson Day. "It is with tremendous sadness that the Jackie Robinson Foundation mourns the loss of actor, screenwriter and philanthropist, Chadwick Boseman," the Jackie Robinson Foundation released in a statement on Twitter. "... Having channeled the depth and diversity of our beloved Jackie Robinson in the 2013 critically-acclaimed Legendary Entertainment film 42, Chadwick was a dear friend of the Foundation — lending his time and visibility to help advance our mission."

Boseman's performance as the first Black man to play in the major leagues told the story of an American hero. The foundation now believes Boseman is the same. "Chadwick will be etched in history as a hero in his own right, especially having shown millions of Black and Brown children the power of a superhero who looks like them. Chadwick — may you rest in peace eternally," the statement continued. "Take your place among the greats. You earned it."

Robinson's daughter, Sharon Robinson, also shared that she was "devastated" over Boseman's passing, tweeting out, "He was a brilliant actor and a dear friend. My mother, brother, children and grandchildren send out our love to the Boseman family. We all loved Chad and will cherish our personal memories."

Gov. Henry McMaster ordered flags at half-mast following Chadwick Boseman's death

"To honor the life, contributions and memory of a truly extraordinary son of South Carolina @chadwickboseman," South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster tweeted, "I have ordered the flags atop the Statehouse to be lowered to half-staff tomorrow, Sunday, August 30, 2020, from sunrise to sunset."

Chadwick Boseman was born and raised in Anderson, S.C., and although he moved away from his home state to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C. and find superstardom, the actor never forgot his roots. According to Fox Carolina, Boseman purchased tickets for 312 underprivileged kids so they could go see Black Panther at Anderson's AmStar 14 theater. The theater's manager also said opening night for Marvel blockbuster was a Boseman family affair, with 460 of the actor's family and friends in attendance.

Boseman's death was grieved by the Anderson community, per Fox Carolina, with state politicians from both sides of the aisle making public statements. "South Carolina grieves the loss of her native son," Republican Senator Tim Scott tweeted. "Thank you @ChadwickBoseman for being a bright light and inspiring so many around the globe. Your loved ones are in my prayers. #WakandaForever."

Chadwick Boseman was an inspiring texter

As countless other celebs mourned Chadwick Boseman's death on social media, actor Josh Gad took to Twitter to share a screenshot of a lengthy text message the Black Panther star sent to him during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"Breaking my twitter silence to share some beauty. This was one of my final texts from the brilliant & once-in-lifetime talent, @chadwickboseman — take this in & celebrate life," Boseman's Marshall co-star wrote in the text-post's caption. "He knew how precious every moment was. Tonight the Heavens received one of its most powerful angels."

In the text, Boseman urged Gad to celebrate a day of sunshine in Los Angeles that was forecast for rain. "Inhale and exhale this moment," the text read in part. " And thank God for the unique beauties and wonders of this day. We should take advantage of every moment we can to enjoy the simplicity of God's creation, whether it be clear skies and sun or clouded over with gloom. And hey, if the air is this clear right now, and it does rain tomorrow, I might even put jars and bins out and catch the rain. Throw that in the water filter and I have a water more alkaline than any bottled brand out there."

Boseman's message, encouraging his friend to find solace and beauty in the present, could not be more fitting in the wake of his untimely passing.