The Oscar-nominated director was known for Boyz n the Hood, 2 Fast 2 Furious and Poetic Justice

By Alexia Fernandez
April 29, 2019 04:30 PM

John Singleton, the first African-American man to be nominated for a Best Directing Oscar, has died. He was 51.

“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.

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.”

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 we announce that our beloved son, father and friend, John Daniel Singleton will be taken off of life support today. This was an agonizing decision, one that our family made, over a number of days, with the careful counsel of John’s doctors,” the statement began.

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

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

In court documents, obtained by PEOPLE, Ward wrote Singleton was “hospitalized in a coma and is unable to provide for his personal needs.”

Ward added Singleton was involved in “several business projects and was prepared to sign a lucrative settlement agreement” at the end of the month, according to the documents.

John Singleton
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

The conservatorship would be established to prevent a “substantial financial loss.”

Before his death, Singleton checked himself into a hospital after he began experiencing weakness in his legs, according to TMZ.

RELATED: Boyz n the Hood Director John Singleton Is in a Coma After Suffering a ‘Major Stroke’

Singleton made his film debut with his 1991 film Boyz n the Hood starring Cuba Gooding Jr., Ice Cube, Laurence Fishburne, Morris Chestnut and Angela 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 Learning, Baby 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.

(left to right) John Singleton, Samuel L. Jackson, Spike Lee
Earl Gibson III/Getty Images

Singleton was outspoken about issues of race in the Hollywood system, telling The Hollywood Reporter in 2014 that studios weren’t “letting the black people tell the stories” when it came to films depicting the African American experience.

“[Studio executives say] ‘We’re going to take your stories but, you know what? You’re going to go starve over here and we’re not going to let you get a job,’” Singleton said. “The so-called liberals that are in Hollywood now are not as good as their parents of ancestors.”

RELATED: John Singleton Suffered a Stroke at Age 51: Why Younger People Are Having Them

He added, “The black films now — so-called black films now — they’re great. They’re great films. But they’re just product. They’re not moving the bar forward creatively. When you try to make it homogenized, when you try to make it appeal to everybody, then you don’t have anything that’s special.”

Singleton is survived by his mother, Shelia, and his seven children: daughters Justice, Hadar, Cleopatra, Selenesol, Issis, and his sons Maasai and Seven.

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