Following tragic news that the 43-year-old Black Panther star lost a battle with colon cancer this week, Washington is honoring the late actor.
In a statement shared with E! News, the Oscar-winner says, "He was a gentle soul and a brilliant artist, who will stay with us for eternity through his iconic performances over his short yet illustrious career. God bless Chadwick Boseman."
Washington and Boseman's fateful connection actually goes back years all the way to Boseman's college days when he was studying directing, not acting, at Howard University. Howard required directing students to take acting classes and one summer, Boseman's teacher, The Cosby Show star Phylicia Rashad, wanted him to enter a summer course at Oxford. When Boseman couldn't pay for the summer program abroad, Rashad enlisted a friend to help out with Boseman's tuition.
The Marshall actor wouldn't learn until some time later that it was none other than the Training Day star who generously provided the funds.
"I've basically been holding this secret my whole career. When I came back, I got a beneficiary letter and it said Denzel Washington paid for you," Boseman recounted in 2018 during a Tonight Show interview with Jimmy Fallon. "I was like, 'What?!' I never wanted to say that until I met him."
Boseman and Washington finally met in person at the 2018 NYC premiere of Black Panther and their exchange was sweet and hilarious. According to Boseman, when he introduced himself and told the story about Oxford, Washington cracked, "Oh so that's why I'm here? You owe me money. I came to collect!"
Washington was also a producer on Boseman's final film, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.
On Friday, Aug. 28, news of Boseman's death was shared across official social media accounts. "It is with immeasurable grief that we confirm the passing of Chadwick Boseman," the statement read. "Chadwick was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016, and battled with it these last 4 years as it progressed to stage IV. A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much. From Marshall to Da 5 Bloods, August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and several more, all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy. It was the honor of his career to bring King T'Challa to life in Black Panther."
Boseman died at home, with his wife, Taylor Simone Ledward, and family by his side. "The family thanks you for your love and prayers, and asks that you continue to respect their privacy during this difficult time," the message concluded.
Washington is joined by countless actors and Hollywood stars, including many Marvel co-stars, who've mourned Boseman's passing since news broke.