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Christopher 'Big Black' Boykin: Looking Back at the Late Rob & Big Star's Life, from His Big Break to Fatherhood

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Christopher “Big Black” Boykin, who starred on MTV’s Rob & Big, died of a heart attack on Tuesday at the age of 45.

Boykin starred opposite professional skateboarder Rob Dyrdek on the reality series from 2006–08, which launched the 6 ft., 6 in. security guard into the world of entertainment television. Survived by his ex-wife Shannon and their 9-year-old daughter Isis Rae, here’s a look back at Boykin’s life over the years, both on and off screen.

Humble Beginnings

Boykin grew up in the small town of Wiggins, Mississippi. After graduation, he went on to work odd jobs, often juggling two or three at the same time.

“TBT Before I made my dreams true I had to start at the bottom,” he wrote on Instagram in 2015. “The Good Guys Audio/Video Warehouse Worker/PT Door Man at Pacers Strip club & 40 college units … at the same damn time … #belief #hardwork #determination = goals, success.”

A Proud Veteran

Boykin served in the United States Navy from 1990–94.

“I’m a veteran, & a veteran is someone who at one time wrote a blank check payable to the United States of America for [an] amount up to & including their life,” he wrote on Instagram in 2015. “Regardless of personal political views, it’s an honor & a blessing to serve my country. I’m where I am today because of this. Other than birth of my child my proudest moment was serving #United States Navy USS San Jose AFS-7 90-94 … Happy Veterans Day To All Vets.”

#throwbackthursday my home for 3 years USS San Jose AFS-7 The Magnificent 7 #tbt #usathegreatestcountryintheworld

A post shared by Christopher "Big Black" Boykin (@bigblack1972) on

His Big Break

Rob & Big premiered in 2006, chronicling the lives of professional skateboarder Dyrdek and Boykin, his best friend and bodyguard.

It ran for three seasons, concluding in 2008. Most episodes were focused on a central task or event in their daily lives, which included their many attempts to break Guinness World Records. (At one point, they reportedly held the record for eating the most powdered doughnuts in less than three minutes.)

Ups & Downs with Dyrdek

The popular reality show came to a rather abrupt ending, largely due to friction between Dyrdek and Boykin.

“It was a strange period,” Dyrdek said in a March 2016 In Depth with Graham Bensinger interview of the tension between the former costars.

“I had been a pro skateboarder for years, so transitioning to mainstream fame was relatively smooth [for me], whereas for him — he was like, working security two years earlier and now he’s on television,” he explained. “It was a [very] different dynamic. But I think we both struggled … I didn’t want to be known as like, Rob from Rob & Big … and I think he didn’t want to be known [as] the sidekick. So that created a lot of that tension between me and him.”

According to Dyrdek, however, they were “paid the same in that era.”

“I think it was more the fundamental struggle of wanting to not be so connected to each other,” he explained. “Things were so tense at certain times. It’s funny now that I think about it, but we literally would film some of the funniest things that we have ever done and would be losing it and then walk away and not talk to each other. It was super, super bizarre.”

Boykin and Dyrdek eventually put their differences aside and rekindled the friendship, reuniting in 2011 when Boykin joined the fourth season of Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory on MTV. Boykin also went on to appear on Dyrdek’s Ridiculousness, as well as other MTV series such as Guy Code and Snack Off.

After Dyrdek tied the knot to beauty mogul Bryiana in 2015, Boykin took to Instagram to share a sweet shout-out and congratulate the happy couple.

“Had to come by the Fantasy Factory & personally give congrats to the newlywed,” he captioned a photo of himself and Dyrdek. “This is the happiest I’ve ever seen this guy … amazing what a great woman can do to a man.”

Most recently, Boykin honored his friendship with Dyrdek with a touching “F— Racism” post on Instagram last July.

“I’m about this life & this life only,” he wrote. “I did a show with my homie & best friend, I love him like a brother. Even though Hollywood & egos took us apart we still talk often about life, him being a new dad & things that really matter now. Rob D, I love you buddy. We made a lot of people see that black & white can get along & made people laugh at the same time … Love over Hate … Rob & Big Forever.”

A Devoted Father

Above all, Boykin always maintained that his proudest accomplishment in life was his daughter Isis, whom he welcomed with his then-wife Shannon in February 2008. Boykin regularly shared photos of the two on Instagram, documenting their days at the beach or Disneyland.

“My biggest accomplishment in life,” he captioned an adorable selfie of the duo on Instagram in 2015. “Not TV, not fame or money. It’s being a father & being there for your child, for my friends who haven’t accomplished something real yet like being a dad. It’s as real as it gets — money, cars, TV shows & clothing lines ain’t nothing until you have someone that looks just like you & depends on you to show them right from wrong. Now that’s life & I LOVE IT.”

Just last month, Boykin took his daughter to her very first concert to see Jacob Sartorius — and even managed to arrange a meet and greet.

“Took my daughter to her first concert a special thanks to @jacobsartorius & his tour manager,” he captioned a photo of Isis with Sartorius and a friend. “Saved my a— this evening. I told my daughter & her best friend that they were going to meet him but I had no clue how. With your daughter you better keep your word cause she will remember forever. #daddysbegoodtoyourdaughters.”

#TBT 08 my little girl 1st Halloween & first Pumpkin Carving🎃🇺🇸

A post shared by Christopher "Big Black" Boykin (@bigblack1972) on

Birthday Weekend For This Princess Let The Spoiling Begin 7years Old Damn This Stuff Goes Quick…#imgettingold

A post shared by Christopher "Big Black" Boykin (@bigblack1972) on

On Tuesday, Boykin’s ex issued a message to the late star’s fans via his Twitter page.

“This is Shannon, Big Black’s ex-wife,” she tweeted. “I’m heartbroken to tell you of Black’s passing. He’s everything to me and Isis and we will miss him.”