The MTV’s Video Music Awards were dedicated to Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman after his shocking death was reported on Friday.
Boseman had been privately battling Colon cancer for four years before succumbing to the disease while surrounded by family and friends at his home.
Host Keke Palmer began the live telecast by addressing Boseman’s death, describing him as “an actor whose talent and passion were a true inspiration to all the fans.” She dedicated the show to “a true hero – not just on screen, but in everything he did. His impact lives forever.”
The tribute highlighted the time Boseman used his speech for Best Hero at 2018’s Movie and TV Awards to recognize a real-life hero. He brought James Shaw Jr., a man who fought off a gunman and saved lives at a Tennessee Waffle House, up onto the stage.
“Receiving an award for playing a superhero is amazing, but it’s even greater to acknowledge the heroes that we have in real life.” Acknowledging his award statue, he said to Shaw Jr., “This is gonna live at your house, God bless you.” The minute-long memorial concluded with the phrase “Rest in Power.”
Due to the pandemic, most acceptance speeches were pre-recorded, so Boseman was not acknowledged by the winners. Black Eyed Peas singer will.i.am yelled “Wakanda forever!” after the band’s live performance, which was the last of the night.
Celebrities came out on social media to pay tribute to Boseman, including his Avenger’s castmates. Iron Man’s Robert Downey Jr. wrote that Chadwick “leveled the playing field while fighting for his life… That’s heroism.”
Mr. Boseman leveled the playing field while fighting for his life… That’s heroism. I’ll remember the good times, the laughter, and the way he changed the game… #chadwickforever @chadwickboseman pic.twitter.com/IFfCSmLrhR
— Robert Downey Jr (@RobertDowneyJr) August 29, 2020
Black Panther co-star, Danai Gurira, posted a lengthy memorial on Instagram. “How do you honor a king?” She pondered, “He played great, iconic roles because he possessed inside himself that connection to greatness to be able to so richly bring them to life.”
— Danai Gurira (@DanaiGurira) August 30, 2020
Black Widow Scarlett Johansson had thoughtful words to say about Boseman, “Chadwick was not only a deeply soulful and powerful actor, but he was such a kind, thoughtful, funny and gentle person.” King T’Challa’s little sister Letitia Wright tweeted about his passing “This hurts. Really hurts.”