Chadwick Boseman Died on Jackie Robinson Day 7 Years After He Played the Sports Legend in 42

Chadwick Boseman died at 43 after a private four-year battle with colon cancer

Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson in 42. Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection

Chadwick Boseman died on Jackie Robinson Day, seven years after he starred as the baseball icon in the 2013 movie 42.

The Black Panther star died of colon cancer four years after his first diagnosis in 2016, his family announced in a statement Friday night. He was 43.

In a somber coincidence, Boseman's death was announced by Joe Davis and Orel Hershiser during the Los Angeles Dodgers game in which all players were wearing the number 42 in honor of Robinson. Robinson played for the Dodgers during his groundbreaking career.

Though the day is traditionally honored on April 15, the postponement of the Major League Baseball season due to the coronavirus pandemic pushed it to Friday.

The film 42 told the story of how Robinson, with his extraordinary talent and courage in the face of racism, became the first Black player in modern Major League Baseball. Dodgers executive Branch Rickey, who hired Robinson to help break the league's longstanding color barrier, was played by Harrison Ford.

The Jackie Robinson Foundation went on to share a moving tribute to the actor, writing that that he will be "etched in history as a hero in his own right."

“It is with tremendous sadness that the Jackie Robinson Foundation mourns the loss of actor, screenwriter and philanthropist, Chadwick Boseman," the foundation wrote in a statement shared on social media. "Having channeled the depth and diversity of our beloved Jackie Robinson in the 2018 critically-acclaimed Legendary Entertainment film ‘42.’ Chadwick was a dear friend of the Foundation - lending his time and visibility to help advance our mission.”

“Preparing for his starring role in ‘42,’ he studied extensively and spent considerable time with Rachel Robinson. A consummate professional, he absorbed every story, every memory and every photo and film excerpt he could consume to help translate the soul of an American hero. And now, Chadwick will be etched in history as a hero in his own right, especially having shown millions of Black and Brown children the power of a superhero who looks like them. Chadwick - may you rest in peace eternally. Take your place among the greats. You earned it.”

Robinson's daughter also shared that she was "devastated" by the news of Boseman's death.

"He was a brilliant actor and a dear friend. My mother, brother, children and grandchildren send out our love to the Boseman family. We all loved Chad and will cherish our personal memories," she wrote.

Boseman died at his home surrounded by family, his team wrote on the star's Instagram page.

"It is with immeasurable grief that we confirm the passing of Chadwick Boseman," the Instagram post said. "⁣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."

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."

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