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Chadwick Boseman inspired next generation including Cobb boy battling brain tumor

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — People across the world were stunned Friday night and Saturday morning after learning about the death of actor Chadwick Boseman.

His publicist confirmed in a statement the actor had been fighting colon cancer for four years and died Friday surrounded by family. He was only 43 years old.

Boseman is most well-known for his role as superhero Black Panther in the Marvel franchise along with his portrayals of Jackie Robinson and James Brown. Several of his movies were filmed here in Georgia, including “42,” “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Black Panther.”

Boseman never revealed his cancer diagnosis, but just like the superhero he played on the big screen, he answered the call to meet a young Cobb County student fighting his own battle.

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Boseman surprised 9-year-old Ian Hopgood one day at the HAVEN Academy in 2017 with a basket full of Black Panther items. He spent the day getting to know Ian, who idolized Black Panther and couldn’t contain his excitement.

“When I came in, he came up and hugged me. It’s literally the best response I’ve ever gotten as far as the character goes,” Boseman said that day.

My new friend, Ian. Who gave me a Super Hero Hug that still hasn't let me go. 📷: Addison Henderson

Posted by Chadwick Boseman on Saturday, April 29, 2017

Months before the two met, Hopgood had been diagnosed in October 2016 with a brain tumor that affected his vision, speech and mobility, according to his mother Kara Anderson.

Boseman made sure to stay in contact with Hopgood and his family after his visit.

Hopgood sadly died in January 2018, one month before Black Panther’s release. Boseman paid tribute to him when he discussed the film’s cultural impact during an interview with SiriusXM radio.

“There are two little kids, Ian and Taylor, who recently passed from cancer. Throughout our filming, I was communicating with them knowing they were both terminal. What they said to me and their parents said, they’re just trying to hold on until this movie comes,” he said.

“When I found out that they’d...,” Boseman said in tears. “It means a lot.”

Hopgood’s paraprofessional Kendrick Love, who helped arrange the 2017 surprise, posted a touching tribute to Boseman on Facebook and what that day meant to everyone.

Love said Boseman didn’t hesitate to sign autographs for the other children at the school.

“This man knew what he was going through and decided to go and spend time with Ian,” Love said. “He will always have my respect. He was giving while he was fighting his own serious battle.”

Posted by Kendrick Love Sr. on Friday, August 28, 2020