The news of Chadwick Boseman's passing at the age of 43 shocked the nation. The actor, best known for playing King T'Challa in the groundbreaking Marvel film Black Panther, was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2016 and eventually died of the disease on August 28.
Boseman inspired countless with his dignified performances—especially when it came to embodying real-life historical figures, like Jackie Robinson and James Brown. He leaves behind a legion of devastated fans, loved ones, and—as we learned after his death—his wife Taylor Simone Ledward, whom he quietly married soon before his death.
An official statement said Boseman "died in his home, with his wife and family by his side." Ledward and Boseman reportedly got engaged in October 2019, and were married some time afterwards.
The couple first turned heads at the 2019 Screen Actors Guild Awards, when many wondered just who the beautiful woman he locked arms with was. He and Ledward posed for photos on the red carpet with This Is Us cast members Susan Kelechi Watson, Sterling K. Brown, and his wife, Ryan Michelle Bathe. Memorably, Brown portrayed Boseman's uncle, Prince N'Jobu, in the blockbuster superhero flick.
Prior to that red carpet appearance, the couple managed to maintain a low profile, though they had been together since 2015. The couple's real debut came during Boseman's moving acceptance speech for Black Panther's Best Film Ensemble win. He shouted out Ledward and her place in his life. “Simone, you’re with me every day. I have to acknowledge you right now. Love you,” he said in his acceptance speech. The camera caught her mouth back,“I love you.”
Here's everything we know so far about the fictional Wakanda king's real-life queen. Our thoughts are with her during this unimaginable time.
So who is Taylor Simone Ledward?
A singer, Ledward is believed to have graduated from California State Polytechnic University (Cal Poly), Pomona in 2014 with a bachelor's degree in music industry studies. In the photo above, Ledward sings in the library with the school's jazz band in November 2013.
When did she and Boseman start dating?
While it's unclear, there are photographs of Boseman and Ledward at the Los Angeles International Airport in 2015. And the two were spotted walking hand-in-hand outside the Jimmy Kimmel Live! studio in L.A. following Boseman's June 2017 appearance.
She also attended a Black Panther after-party with Boseman in New York in February 2018. That same month, Boseman and Ledward were photographed sitting courtside at the NBA All-Star game along with Boseman's co-star, Michael B. Jordan.
Her grandmother confirmed their relationship in 2018.
Ledward's grandmother reportedly spoke to In Touch Weekly in April 2018 about her granddaughter's relationship with Boseman. "They respect each other," she said. "She's very happy, and he is, too."
Ledward's sister also described them as an item.
A post shared by Team Chadwick Boseman (@teamchadwickboseman) on Mar 15, 2018 at 9:13am PDT
In March 2018, fans suggested Boseman and his Black Panther co-star Lupita Nyong'o continue their fictional romance offscreen after a fan account posted a photo of them together. But a comment from user @i_ledz got everyone's attention.
"His real life queen is gorgeous, and together they embody true love," she wrote. "Not to mention they would make some beautiful babies!"
The user, who has since made her account private, was identified by celebrity gossip site The Young, Black, & Fabulous (YBF) as Ledward's sister.
They were last photographed at a basketball game in February.
On February 16, 2020, Boseman and Ledward sat courtside at an NBA All-Star game in Chicago, Illinois. They were photographed mid-conversation, beaming. Ledward is wearing an engagement ring.
The beautiful photo captures the couple at an unvarnished, happy moment—which is how we'll remember them.
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