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'Black Panther' star Chadwick Boseman dies at 43

He was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016 and battled with it for the last four years.
/ Source: TODAY

Actor Chadwick Boseman died from colon cancer at the age of 43.

On his Instagram, his team confirmed his death, writing with “immeasurable grief” that he had died in his home with his family by his side.

“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, 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. ⁣⁣It was the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther.”

Boseman’s portrayal of T’Challa in the film “Black Panther” was heralded as the marking of a cosmic shift in Hollywood. The 18th movie in the Marvel universe, it featured mainly characters of color and an African king with technological war power but also mystical strength.

It was the first Marvel film to feature a largely Black cast and crew, including Lupita Nyong'o, Forest Whitaker and Michael B. Jordan.

In an interview with TODAY in 2018, he said he believed there was a "thirst" for Black superheroes.

"I think there's a thirst for these images, there's a thirst for a Black superhero," he said. "As far as my character goes, there's a real search for 'how do I lead?' I think people are searching for that, leaders that actually care about the people."

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Chadwick Boseman as T'Challa in "Black Panther."Matt Kennedy / Marvel Studios 2018

Boseman also portrayed Jackie Robinson in “42," the first Black U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in "Marshall" and musician James Brown in “Get on Up.”

News of Boseman's death came on a day when Major League Baseball was celebrating Jackie Robinson day, which had been delayed by the pandemic earlier this year.

"We are devastated by the tragic loss of Chadwick Boseman," the MLB tweeted late Friday. "His transcendent performance in '42' will stand the test of time and serve as a powerful vehicle to tell Jackie’s story to audiences for generations to come."

Boseman was raised in Anderson, South Carolina, a small town about two hours northeast of Atlanta, Georgia.

"What I love now is that there are little kids now that live there who are like yeah, I can go to Hollywood and become a movie star," he said of his hometown to TODAY's Willie Geist in 2018.

Boseman said he originally dreamt of being a basketball player, but in high school, his teammate was shot and killed. Boseman said that set him on a new path.

"Basically, I wrote a play in response to it," he explained. "It wasn't about his death, but it was more so just me, trying to deal with the fact that it had happened. That was really the first time that I knew what it was like to create a story, be onstage, and deliver something and have an audience respond to it."

He followed his dreams to Howard University in Washington D.C., where he majored in directing and didn't plan to become an actor.

He said he met Phylicia Rashad, of "The Cosby Show," who became his professor and mentor. She even once got Denzel Washington to help Boseman pay for a prestigious summer acting program at Oxford.

Boseman strikes the "Wakanda Forever" pose at the Academy Awards on March 4, 2018.VALERIE MACON / AFP - Getty Images

After graduating, Boseman moved to Brooklyn, New York, where he joined the hip hop theater scene. He eventually picked up small roles in TV shows like "CSI: NY" and "Law & Order" before his major roles on the silver screen.

As the news of Boseman's death spread across social media, dozens of celebrities expressed their shock and sadness.

“This is a crushing blow," Jordan Peele wrote on Twitter.

"All I have to say is the tragedies amassing this year have only been made more profound by the loss of #ChadwickBoseman," Mark Ruffalo, who worked with Boseman in the two most recent "Avengers" movies, wrote. "What a man, and what an immense talent. Brother, you were one of the all time greats and your greatness was only beginning. Lord love ya. Rest in power, King."

“This broke me,” Issa Rae of "Insecure" posted.

"Rest In Peace, Chadwick. Gone way too soon. Talent beyond," Alyssa Milano wrote.