"He gave a voice and an opportunity to many. Count me in that grateful number," Angela Bassett said of John Singleton

By Alexia Fernandez
April 29, 2019 06:27 PM

John Singleton died on Monday after being taken off of life support following a stroke — and some of his closest friends and colleagues are remembering the famed director.

Angela Bassett, who starred in his 1991 drama Boyz n the Hood, told PEOPLE in a statement on Monday she was “grateful” to have worked with him.

“I met John as a recently graduated first-time writer/director embarking on his nascent film career. I will forever remember him fondly from our first meeting during the audition process,” Bassett, 60, said. “He exuded many things that day…awareness, openness and above all, enthusiasm!”

She added, “Over the years, he never lost or left any of that behind. He provided and possessed a clarity of vision that I appreciate from that day till this. He gave a voice and an opportunity to many. Count me in that grateful number.”

Courtney B. Vance, with whom Singleton worked with on The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, also told PEOPLE in a statement that the opportunity to work with Singleton “became one of the defining moments in my career.” 

John Singleton and Angela Bassett
Earl Gibson III/Getty

“One of those episodes directed by John titled “The Race Card” opens with an emotional scene of Johnnie Cochran and his daughters being pulled over by an ill-intended police officer, as well as an epic courtroom scene between Cochran and Darden where the two men have the ultimate confrontation,” Vance said.

He continued, “As a black man, father, and actor, those were very challenging scenes for me, but they were also so very important to tell the full story of Mr. Cochran, the man and attorney.  John understood that and worked with us to bring those scenes to life in the way only he could – unapologetically honest and true.”

RELATED: John Singleton’s Family Makes ‘Agonizing’ Decision to Take Him Off Life Support Following Stroke

“John was truly one of a kind and his voice and presence will be deeply missed. But the spirit of his extensive body of work – and the trails he has blazed for generations of filmmakers – will live on. Thank God for that,” Vance added.

Several other colleagues, admirers and friends of Singleton honored him on social media, including director Ava DuVernay, who shared a photo of herself and Singleton on Twitter.

“There aren’t many of us out here doing this. It’s a small tribe in the grand scheme of things. He was a giant among us. Kind. Committed. And immensely talented,” she wrote. “His films broke ground. His films mattered. He will be missed. And long remembered. Thank you, John. #RunIntoHisArms.”

Janet Jackson, who starred in Boyz n the Hood, honored him on Instagram writing, “You gave me my first movie role, my first Oscar nomination and so much more.”

“Thank you for all you have given to the world through your work and all you have done for Black culture, women and young filmmakers. I will miss you John,” she added. “Keeping your family in my prayers. 💜”

Actress Yvette Nicole Brown tweeted, “I was hoping he would survive this. Thinking of #LukePerry again. Same tragedy at the same age. Both gone way too soon. #RIPJohnSingleton and thank you for your artistry.”

Ron Howard also shared, “Sad sad news. Such a good director and so well regarded everywhere he went. We will miss his work and his storytelling voice. RIP #JohnSingleton.”

While Neil deGrasse Tyson honored him with, “Stars in the universe that burn the brightest, live shorter lives than others. And with their high-energy light, they transform all that basks in their luminosity. Farewell John Singleton (1968-2019).”

Actress Rose McGowan also shared her condolences, tweeting, “John Singleton has died. This is a big loss to the world at large. So smart, insatiably curious, and a cool dude all around. He took me to lunch twice in the last few years and was truly a gentleman. Thank you for your contributions and I’m so sorry your life was cut short.”

RELATED: Remembering the Stars We Lost in 2019

Chance the Rapper tweeted, “Rest up John Singleton. We never met, but Remember The Time literally changed my life. Thank you so much. God Bless you.”

Singleton was taken off of life support on Monday and passed away. His family announced on Monday that they were taking the director off of life support 13 days after he suffered a stroke.

“It is with heavy hearts that we announce that our beloved son, father and friend, John Daniel Singleton passed away today due to complications from a stroke he suffered last Wednesday,” his family wrote in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.

John Singleton
Vince Bucci/Getty

The statement continued, “John Singleton was a prolific, groundbreaking director who changed the game and opened doors in Hollywood, a world that was just a few miles away, yet worlds away, from the neighborhood in which he grew up.”

“In his private life, John was a loving and supporting father, son, brother and friend who believed in higher education, black culture, old school music and the power of film,” it added. “John’s confidence in his place in Hollywood was only matched for his passion for the sea. John kayaked in Marina Del Rey every morning. His greatest joy, when not on set, was sailing on his boat, J’s Dream, up and down the Pacific Coast.”

Singleton suffered a “major stroke” after arriving back in the U.S. from a trip to Costa Rica. His mother, Sheila Ward, filed an application to establish a temporary conservatorship for his estate on April 25.

RELATED: Oscar Nominee John Singleton, Known for Boyz n the Hood and 2 Fast 2 Furious, Dies at 51

He made his film debut with his 1991 film Boyz n the Hood starring Cuba Gooding Jr., Ice Cube, Laurence Fishburne, Morris Chestnut and Bassett.

He was nominated for an Oscar for Best Director, becoming the first African American and the youngest person to have earned a nomination in that category.

In 1993 he directed Poetic Justice and followed it up with Higher LearningBaby Boy and Shaft starring Samuel L. Jackson.

He also directed 2 Fast 2 Furious and Four Brothers while serving as a producer on the 2005 film Hustle & Flow. Recently, he co-created the crime drama Snowfall.

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