“Before we get into the music tonight, we need to take the time to talk about the devastating loss of Chadwick Boseman, an actor whose talent and passion is a true inspiration to all the fans he touched and everyone he encountered,” Keke Palmer said at the top of the Sunday, August 30, ceremony, which she hosted. “We dedicate tonight’s show to a man whose spirit touched so many. He is a true hero, not just on screen but in everything he did. His impact lives forever.”
Boseman died at the age of 43 on Friday, August 28, with his wife, Taylor Simone Ledward, and family by his side. The news came four years after he was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer that had progressed to stage IV. He never publicly discussed his health.
“A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much,” read a statement shared on the late actor’s social media pages. “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.”
The Howard University graduate got his big break in 2013 when he portrayed Jackie Robinson in 42. He continued to play historical figures, such as James Brown in 2014’s Get on Up and Thurgood Marshall in 2017’s Marshall, before landing his own Marvel movie. While he first started playing T’Challa in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, he most memorably headlined 2018’s Black Panther, which became one of the highest-grossing films of all time and the first superhero movie to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. Boseman earned a SAG Award and an NAACP Image Award for the role.
“It was the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther,” read Friday’s statement on his social media accounts.
The South Carolina native’s final film, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, will be posthumously released on Netflix.
Since his death, Boseman’s Black Panther castmates and celebrity friends have been sharing heartfelt tributes to him via Instagram and Twitter. Letitia Wright, who played T’Challa’s sister Shuri, tweeted that the news “really hurts,” while their onscreen mother, Angela Bassett, wrote, “This young man’s dedication was awe-inspiring, his smile contagious, his talent unreal. So I pay tribute to a beautiful spirit, a consummate artist, a soulful brother.”