Host Keke Palmer addressed the “devastating loss” in a prerecorded segment memorializing the “Black Panther” actor ahead of the virtual ceremony on Sunday.
“Before we get into the music tonight, we need to talk about the devastating loss of Chadwick Boseman, an actor whose talent and passion is a true inspiration to all the fans he touched and everyone he encountered,” she said. “We dedicate tonight’s show to a man whose spirit touched so many. He is a true hero. Not just on screen but in everything he did. His impact lives forever.”
Boseman, who never spoke publicly about his diagnosis, died at his Los Angeles home with his family and wife Taylor Simone Ledward by his side. The actor continued to film a slew of blockbuster movies after being diagnosed with colon cancer four years ago, his family revealed in a statement.
After Palmer’s speech, MTV aired its own tribute to Boseman, resurfacing his appearance at the MTV Movie Awards in 2018. After accepting the Best Hero trophy during the ceremony, Boseman invited James Shaw Jr., who disarmed a gunman during a shooting in a Tennessee Waffle House, to the stage.
“Receiving an award for playing a superhero is amazing,” Boseman said, “but it’s even greater to acknowledge the heroes we have in real life.”
“Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler and star Danai Gurira both shared heartbreaking statements over social media on Sunday.
“Because he was a caretaker, a leader, and a man of faith, dignity and pride, he shielded his collaborators from his suffering,” Coogler wrote. “He lived a beautiful life. And he made great art. Day after day, year after year. That was who he was.”
“How do you honor a king?” Gurira said in her own statement. “Reeling from the loss of my colleague, my friend, my brother. Struggling for words. Nothing feels adequate. I always marveled at how special Chadwick was. Such a pure-hearted, profoundly generous, regal, fun guy.”