Disney Channel star Cameron Boyce was only 20 years old when he passed away from an epileptic seizure on July 6, 2019. The sudden passing of the young actor set social media ablaze when the heart-breaking news was released.
Fans of the “Jessie” and “Descendants” star, fellow Disney Channel actors and 20-year-olds everywhere mourned the loss of a life taken much too young. One thing was clear through all of the messages sent in memory of Boyce: It could’ve been anyone. Tweets and videos from young adults around the same age as Boyce shared that his death brought about realizations of the brevity of life.
The internet was shaken in a similar way over the unexpected deaths of young celebrities like Paul Walker, Heath Ledger and Tupac Shakur, but the social media generation rarely experiences a passing so close to home. Many people who shared their thoughts felt that this loss hit them harder than others because they’d grown up with Boyce, who was born in 1999. Many fans were the same age as Boyce when he joined the show, “Jessie.”
One tweet from a fan reads, “This Cameron Boyce thing got me messed up. It’s one thing when a star older than you dies and you think back to being a kid, but we dead ass grew up with this kid, when we were 12 he was 12 on our TVs. Now we’re in our 20s figuring out life, and he doesn’t get to experience it.”
Along with thousands of tweets and posts tagged with the hashtag, #ripcameronboyce, Boyce’s co-stars — both past and present — as well as his close family members have shared their stories in light of his passing. His father shared this Instagram post expressing his grief with a photo taken the day he went to bed and never woke up again.
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My son. Just hours before he was snatched from our lives. I miss him terribly. I hope that no one ever has to feel the agony I’m feeling but no one is immune to tragedy. The outpouring of love and support our family continues to receive is so beautiful and appreciated. Thank you all for helping us through our worst possible situation. 🙏🏾❤️
Boyce’s sister, Maya, also shared an album of photos and a personal message about her brother on Instagram days after his passing.
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It’s safe to say many 20-year-olds were struck by this devastating loss in more ways than one. It’s put life into perspective, but it’s also shown many young adults what they can do with the time they’ve been given. Boyce’s sister shared in her statement how charitable he was throughout his 20 years.
“He always said that if you have a voice, you have the privilege of using that voice for change, and he did not take that idea lightly,” she said. “He understood his responsibility as someone who many kids looked up to.”
Tweets are still pouring in now over a week after his death. Disney Channel has decided to cancel the red carpet premiere of the latest installment in the “Descendants” movie series in honor of Boyce’s death. Disney will also be donating to the Thirst Project, one of Boyce’s favorite charities that raises money to fund projects combating the global water crisis, in his memory.
It’s obvious it may take time for the nation to move on after Boyce’s sudden death. However, one lesson is for sure: Life is short. Young adults around the world have learned to never take a single person or moment for granted. After all, it could be the last.
Ryann Sheehy is a junior theater and media arts and design major. Contact Ryann at firstname.lastname@example.org.