Alongside his busy acting career, which has included roles in Jessie, the Descendants franchise and Adam Sandler’s Grown Ups films, Cameron Boyce was passionate about his public platform for activism. Boyce spoke out on many causes, most notably ending gun violence and homelessness. He traced his desire to make a difference to the way he was raised. “There’s a long line of difference makers in my family,” he told Haute Living in a recent interview. “I’m following in the footsteps of some really strong men and women who have shown me what it means to give back; it is the best way to realize yourself.”
However, the actor and activist tragically died on July 6, 2019 after suffering a seizure while he was sleeping, ET confirmed. His mother, Libby Boyce, later revealed to ABC News that the 20-year-old had been diagnosed with epilepsy, a seizure disorder, just before he turned 18 – with over a year off, making his death all the more sudden and unexpected for his family. “And of course if I ever thought he could die of a seizure, I would never have let him out of my sight, which would have been horrible for him,” Libby added.
Before his sudden death, the actor had lived his life normally and spent a lot of time with his loved ones. Here’s what happened in Cameron Boyce’s last hours.
He posted on social media
The night before his death (July 5, 2019), Cameron Boyce posted on social media. He shared a black and white portrait of himself on Instagram. In it, he sported a serious expression and a sports headband that tied at the back. However, the Disney Channel star didn’t caption the photo, except to tag British pop culture media company and fashion brand iD.
Posting updates to his Instagram page was something Boyce did on a regular basis as he enjoyed staying connected with his fans, sharing behind-the-scenes snaps of his acting jobs and using the platform to speak about social issues. However, Inquisitr hailed it as a fitting final photo posted by the actor as it captured both the serious and playful side of his personality. The latter excelled in Boyce’s role as Carlos, Cruella’s son, in Disney’s Descendants film series. The final live-action installment in the series, Descendants 3, was released on August 2, 2019, just weeks after Boyce’s death.
Cameron Boyce spent the evening with his parents
Cameron Boyce’s parents, Victor and Libby Boyce, spent the evening of Friday, July 5, 2019 with their son. “The night he died, we had dinner with him just hours before,” Victor Boyce told ABC News. The trio enjoyed quality family time together and the cycling enthusiast said that night was his fondest memory with his son. “He came to visit and I was so happy to see him and I gave him a big hug,” Victor told the outlet.
The father continued, “It was just cool that my 20-year-old son just drove his car from his house and came to visit me.” Victor Boyce also noted that he was so excited to have his son independent as a young adult live and he envisioned what their relationship would be like in the future.
During dinner they chatted and talked about Cameron’s house that he had just bought. “My house is the epicenter of everything cool,” Victor recalled his son’s words as they witnessed earthquake aftershocks at the restaurant. Less than a week after the actor’s death, his father shared a photo of him from that dinner, which is the last photo he has of his son. It showed the Disney Channel star’s goofy side as he sulked in front of the camera. Alongside the picture he posted to Instagram, Victor Boyce expressed his devastation but also thanked everyone for their love and support.
He was texting his parents who had no idea something was wrong
After dinner, actor Cameron Boyce went back to his own new house, but he continued to chat with his parents late into the night. “We texted that evening. We texted about the Lakers,” Victor Boyce told ABC News. Their conversation lasted for hours, he explained. “We texted back and forth until 12:30 p.m., and somewhere between the last text he texted me and the morning he was gone.”
“It’s not a cliche to say you never know…” Victor added, stressing that for him and his wife, Libby, it was just a regular night with their son. The couple couldn’t have known anything was wrong after they stopped texting Cameron, assuming he fell asleep, of course. However, he died in his sleep after a seizure in the early hours of July 6 (via People).
Cameron Boyce’s roommates went to check on him the next morning
During the day on July 6, 2019, Cameron Boyce’s roommates decided to check on him before leaving home for the day, according to the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner report (via E! News). Upon entering his room, they found him unresponsive and they immediately dialed 9-1-1 and began CPR. They continued trying to resuscitate him until emergency services arrived at his North Hollywood home. Unfortunately, there was nothing they could do, and paramedics pronounced Boyce dead at 2:35 p.m
Later that day, his father, Victor Boyce, publicly confirmed the 20-year-old actor’s death, but did not initially reveal it was due to epilepsy. “He died in his sleep from a seizure stemming from an ongoing medical condition for which he was being treated,” the statement said (via People). “The world is undoubtedly without one of its brightest lights now, but his spirit will live on through the kindness and compassion of all who knew and loved him.”
He was being treated for epilepsy
Cameron Boyce’s official death certificate noted that the actor was being treated for a seizure disorder (which later turned out to be epilepsy). His autopsy report confirmed that the drug he’d named levetiracetam was in his system when he died (via E! News). After his death, his parents, Victor and Libby Boyce, went into more detail about the treatment Cameron received. It involved more than just drugs, they revealed to ABC News. “We also had this thing where they wired his head and put this device on to try to capture brain activity. Nothing was ever shown,” said Victor Boyce.
He went on to explain that his son received various types of treatments to determine the cause of his seizures. “They tried to get him to grab him with strobe lights and other methods but never caught him,” he added. The father-of-two added that his son only had seizures while he was sleeping and Cameron didn’t remember the seizures afterwards. The actor had a total of five seizures, his mother revealed, and he often bit his lip or tongue during them.
Cameron Boyce’s legacy will live on
Cameron Boyce dedicated his life to a platform of activism wherever he could. Upon accepting the Thirst Project’s Pioneering Spirit Award, the actor addressed the audience with words and actions of encouragement. “What you leave behind should be bigger than you,” he said. “…We need to use what we have and make the world a better place for other people,” the actor said. It was an attitude that his parents, family, friends and co-stars truly admired in him, and it is through it that Cameron Boyce’s legacy as an activist will live on. After his death, his parents established a charity in his honor – the Cameron Boyce Foundation. “The Cameron Boyce Foundation is going to do a lot of things for epilepsy, for ending gun violence, for the water crisis, those are the areas that he’s really focused on,” his mother Libby Boyce later told ABC News.
Cameron Boyce’s friends and co-stars, including Dove Cameron and Debby Ryan, have been huge supporters of the organization in the years since his death. Ryan starred opposite Boyce in the hit Disney Channel series Jessie from 2011 to 2015, playing his family’s nanny. In honor of the actor, she designed a collection of clothes to benefit his foundation. “Cool stuff to wear forever,” Ryan wrote on Instagram. Proceeds from Ryan’s clothing line went to the causes Cameron was most passionate about, and it’s just one of the ways his legacy lives on.