"Cameron was one of the first people who reminded me that it was okay to be myself," Joshua Rush says about Cameron Boyce, who died after a seizure

By Dave Quinn and Natalie Stone
July 18, 2019 04:34 PM
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In his 20 years of life, Cameron Boyce made a lasting legacy that transcends the big and small screen.

Speaking with PEOPLE on Thursday about the late Descendants star, who unexpectedly died on July 6, fellow Disney actor Joshua Rush opened up about his friendship with Boyce — and why he is “forever grateful to him.”

“Cameron was a really great guy,” says Rush, who was introduced to Boyce a few years ago.

After the pair met, Rush — who gained fame of Disney’s Andi Mack — says he posed an important question to Boyce: ” ‘What advice would you give yourself when you joined Disney?’ ”

The 17-year-old — who also stars in DreamWorks Animation’s upcoming Where’s Waldo? — says “that question was a reoccurring theme through our knowing each other.”

“Cameron had gone through all the fun parts of being a Disney star, and all of the stressful parts, of being a public figure, of having people try to figure out everything about your personal life all the time. He told me about the trade-off that I was making and I am forever grateful to him for his candor in those first moments, and beyond,” he says.

Recalling his favorite memory of their friendship, Rushpinpoints a moment when Boyce recommended he pay it forward.

“I’ll remember him telling me to pass on what he taught me, and make sure that new people in the channel are ready for what it is and what it means to be a part of it,” Rush says.

Boyce gave some valuable advice about how to balance fame while staying true to himself.

Joshua Rush and Cameron Boyce
| Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/WireImage; Rodin Eckenroth/Getty

“He talked about always acting as if you’re in public and people are watching, but still balancing that with being a teenager. Knowing that you have to be professional and balanced all the time can be hard,” Rush says. “Cameron was one of the first people who reminded me that it was okay to be myself, too, on top of everything going on.”

Boyce died suddenly on July 6 in his home after suffering a seizure in his sleep due to epilepsy.

As of last week, “preliminary information suggests the death occurred under natural circumstances,” but “the final cause and manner of death will be determined at a later date,” according to the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner.

“An autopsy was performed and the cause and manner of death were deferred pending additional testing,” the coroner said.

According to the Disney star’s death certificate, obtained by PEOPLE, Boyce was cremated, and his family was able to take his ashes home.

Credit: Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

Earlier this week, Debby Ryan — who worked with Boyce for four seasons on the Disney Channel series Jessie — said goodbye to the late actor when she posted a video on Instagram that showcased a dedication table in his honor.

RELATED VIDEO: Cameron Boyce Said He Hoped to Lead by Example on ‘What It Means to Give Back’ in Final Interview

“This effervescent soul attracted art, respect, poetry, kindness, community— what a gift to be brought together today in a deeply bittersweet celebration of a life we were so fortunate to intersect with,” the Insatiable star, 26, wrote in the caption.

“His mom told me, ‘He is our compass.’ And it’s showing, as all directions have pointed to love and light and togetherness. We love you Cameron,” wrote Ryan. “Thank you for what you’ve given us, and continue to give us.”

DreamWorks Animation’s Where’s Waldo? premieres Saturday at 10 a.m. ET on Universal Kids.