America mourns real-life superhero Chadwick Boseman

A portrait of the late actor Chadwick Boseman as the character T'Challa in the 2018 film "Black Panther" is held by a participant in a news conference celebrating his life, Saturday, Aug. 29. 2020, in Los Angeles. AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

By DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor

We tend to remember people for their greatest deeds, for the way they impacted the world.

So if that’s the case, Chadwick Boseman is a man who will never be forgotten. The 43-year-old actor who portrayed icons and kings on the big screen and inspired innumerable people around the world through his work died Saturday after a four-year battle with colon cancer.

It was a shock to many, as Boseman had kept his illness a secret, continuing to work on films while undergoing surgeries and chemotherapy sessions in between. And you wouldn’t have known it, because through it all, he was going through life with the same sense of purpose and spirit.

When I found out the news of Boseman’s death I was deeply saddened and I wanted to honor him in some way because I was one of the people inspired and impacted by his work. The first time I saw Boseman on screen was in “42,” portraying possibly the most important person in the history of baseball: Jackie Robinson. I was deeply moved by the way Boseman showcased Robinson with dignity and grace, a trend he continued in portraying other icons like James Brown in “Get On Up” and Thurgood Marshall in “Marshall.”

But perhaps his most impactful role was as King T’Challa in Marvel’s “Black Panther.” Not only was the movie a smash hit, but it was also the only superhero movie with a Black lead and a majority-Black cast. In the social and political climate we are currently experiencing, that is incredibly powerful.

I’m not a Black person, but I am a minority and I know what it’s like to grow up without seeing myself represented in movies and TV. Boseman gave that to people. He showed the world that there could be a Black superhero that everyone could look up to.

A moment that stuck with me was during the 2019 Screen Actors Guild Awards when the “Black Panther” cast won the award for Best Ensemble. Boseman said the cast knew what it was liked to be told there wasn’t a place for them to stand in Hollywood, but despite the challenges they never quit.

“We knew that we could create a world that exemplified a world we wanted to see,” Boseman said. “We knew we had something to give.”

Some people were put on this earth to inspire. To create change. To be resilient. Boseman was one of these people.

One of my favorite lines from “42” is when Harrison Ford’s character, Branch Rickey, tells Robinson that he saw a little boy at a sandlot pretending to be him. That the little boy was white.

Tell me how many little boys, regardless of being Black, white, Asian or Latino, will be running around for years to come pretending to be King T’Challa, the Black Panther, all because of Boseman.

Rest in peace and power. Wakanda Forever.