“One of his greatest attributes was never burdening anyone else, but being there to shoulder everyone else’s burdens.”
That’s what Howard University President Dr. Wayne A.I. Frederick told The Hollywood Reporter about Chadwick Boseman and his decision not to tell the public that he was battling colon cancer. Boseman passed away from the disease on Friday, Aug. 28 in Los Angeles at 43 years old after being diagnosed with it in 2016.
Frederick and a few others who knew the “Black Panther” star spoke with the entertainment site about his cancer being kept under wraps, a decision that was inspired by his mother, Carolyn Boseman.
“[She] always taught him not to have people fuss over him,” said Boseman’s agent, Michael Greene. “He also felt in this business that people trip out about things, and he was a very, very private person.”
Besides Greene, others who knew of Boseman’s condition included his producing partner Logan Coles and the actor’s trainer, Addison Henderson, whose father beat cancer four times.
“I used to tell Chad, ‘Man, you remind me of my dad,'” Henderson explained to THR. “‘You guys are fighters, and you never stop moving forward.’ For us, it was just like, ‘Let’s keep going, let’s keep doing what you want to do, let’s keep training.’ And then, me and Logan and his family, his wife [Taylor Simone Ledward], we were always just here to support him. He was just living his artistic life to the fullest and using his time and his moment to really affect people.”
Based on social media posts, many are still mourning Boseman’s death, and he’s received various tributes since his passing. ABC, for example, played “Black Panther” commercial-free on Sunday, Aug. 30. There are also plans for a statue to be built of Boseman in his hometown of Anderson, South Carolina.
The actor’s last film before he passed was “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” produced by Denzel Washington and co-starring Viola Davis. The project, based on August Wilson’s play of the same name, will stream on Netflix.
Greene said that Boseman struggled physically on that set but forged through because of the opportunity.
“He was really in hardcore pain [but] felt that being able to be with Denzel and to launch this cycle of August Wilson at Netflix was so exciting to him.”
Henderson said something similar about his late client and friend.
“Some people wait a lifetime to get the opportunity that he had and Chad had so much wisdom, so much knowledge, so much inside of him that he wasn’t going to let this disease stop him from telling these amazing stories and showing his art in the prime of his life,” Henderson stated.