The Disney Channel star who passed away over the weekend has a powerful connection to East Tennessee.
Actor Cameron Boyce is the grandson of a woman who played a crucial role in the civil rights movement of the 50s.
Boyce passed away Saturday at the age of 20. You may recognize him from his role in Disney’s “Descendants” movies, or from the TV show “Jessie.”
GALLERY: Remembering Cameron Boyce in photos
Boyce died of ‘ongoing medical condition’
He reportedly died from an “ongoing medical condition,” though the coroner’s office in Los Angeles County saying Monday night it has put determining his official cause of death on hold while further investigation can be completed.
Meanwhile, his grandmother Jo Ann Boyce, one of the “Clinton 12,” is remembering him. That’s the group of African-American students who integrated Clinton High School back in the 1950s.
WATE 6 On Your Side’s Elizabeth Kuebel spoke to the star’s grandmother.
Boyce’s grandmother was one of ‘Clinton 12’
She said she’s devastated. It’s especially hard because right now the family is still trying to understand what happened and why. It’s clear, Cameron had a lot of influence in just 20 years, but his grandmother made a big impact, too.
Clinton’s Green McAdoo Cultural Center tells the story of twelve brave high school students in the 1950s. Among the names is Jo Ann Boyce. She’s a member of the “Clinton 12” and a history maker. She’s also the grandmother of Cameron Boyce.
“His nature, his giving nature, loving nature. That’s his legacy. As well as his talent,” said Jo Ann.
She’s holding close the happy moments with her grandson. One of them: filming a piece for Black History Month at the very place where her courage is on display.
“And for him to be a part of that and to share that with his young viewers. To show that his grandmother had been involved in something that he felt like he was stepping on my shoulders and to make the world a better place, that was an incredible experience,” she said.
The center’s administrator acknowledged Cameron’s impact, shining the spotlight for a whole new generation.
“With Cameron coming here as a Disney kid, telling this story. It just had so much more impact. So many more visitors.” Marilyn Hayden said.
And even though Cameron’s life was short, his grandmother says he lived it to the fullest.
Overwhelmed by love, prayers
She’s overwhelmed by the love and prayers flooding in.
“He is a star. But he’s like a different kind of star. He’s a shining star in the sky. We’re grateful for everyone who is sending us the love and the support that we need right now. Thank you,” Jo Ann said.
Meanwhile, Cameron Boyce’s father, Victor Boyce released a statement on Twitter, saying quote: “I’m overwhelmed with the love and support our family has received. It really does help to ease the pain of this nightmare I can’t wake up from.”