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Chadwick Boseman, Star of Black Panther, Dies at 43 After 4-Year Cancer Battle
The Black Panther star was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016 and over the past four years it progressed to stage IV
Chadwick Boseman is being remembered by fans around the world, including 7-year-old Kian Westbrook, who cried when he heard his favorite superhero had died.
On Saturday, the young boy honored the late actor with a moving memorial in his driveway in Florissant, Missouri, featuring all of his Marvel action figures.
The young fan then placed his Black Panther figurine on top of a shoe box wrapped in black silk, and surrounded the box with flowers and an award medal. He also included an Iron Man glove to honor Robert Downey Jr.'s character who died onscreen in the Avengers franchise. Kian then joined his action figures and struck a "Wakanda Forever" salute.
Marvel Chadwick Boseman
His father shared the tribute on Twitter, where it has since gone viral with over 600,000 likes.
"It was beyond words. It made me proud that he found a way to cope with losing his hero in a way that allowed him to understand closure. But he is still having a hard time," King Westbrook, Kian's father, told CNN. "I never knew it would touch as many people as it did. If Kian's beautiful memorial can bring a smile to people hurting from this terrible loss, that makes me proud as a father."
— King Westbrook (@KingWestbrook7) August 29, 2020
For little Kian, Boseman's Black Panther was the first time he got to see a superhero that looked like him.
"He was a good role model to me and Black boys because he let me know Black boys can be heroes too," Kian told CNN. "When I found out he died, I felt very sad. I was crying and couldn't stop talking about him."
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The Black Panther star died Friday at the age of 43 after a private four-year battle with colon cancer, a rep for Boseman confirmed to PEOPLE on Friday. He was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016 and over the past four years it progressed to stage IV.
"It is with immeasurable grief that we confirm the passing of Chadwick Boseman," his team wrote in an Instagram post. "Chadwick was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016, and battled with it these last 4 years as it progressed to stage IV."
"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."
© Marvel/© Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures /Courtesy Everett Collection Chadwick Boseman
Boseman's team wrote that his role has King T'Challa in Black Panther was "the honor of his career."
"He died in his home, with his wife and family by his side," the post concluded. "The family thanks you for your love and prayers, and asks that you continue to respect their privacy during this difficult time."
In addition to his starring role in the blockbuster Marvel movies, Boseman is also known for portraying several historical figures, including Jackie Robinson in 42, Thurgood Marshall in Marshall and James Brown in Get On Up.
Boseman spoke about the impact of Black Panther in 2018, and became emotional when discussing his relationship with two young fans who died of cancer before the movie was released.
"To a certain degree it’s a humbling experience because you’re like, this can’t mean that much to them," he said. "But seeing how the world has taken this on, I realize they anticipated something great. Thinking back now to when I was a kid, waiting for Christmas to come, waiting for my birthday to come, waiting for a toy I was gonna get a chance to experience, or a video game, I did live life waiting for those moments. It put me back in the mind of being a kid and feeling those two boys’ anticipation of this movie."
Black Panther director Ryan Coogler shared a heartbreaking statement following Boseman's death, calling the late actor an "epic firework display."
"Because he was a caretaker, a leader, and a man of faith, dignity and pride, he shielded his collaborators from his suffering. He lived a beautiful life. And he made great art. Day after day, year after year. That was who he was. He was an epic firework display," Coogler said. "I will tell stories about being there for some of the brilliant sparks till the end of my days. What an incredible mark he’s left for us."