The late Stephen “tWitch” Boss was a man who wore many hats. Before he was a co-executive producer and DJ for “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” he was a dancer who rose to fame thanks to Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance” and earlier this year, became a permanent judge on the show.
But those who paid tribute to him on Wednesday following the news of his shocking death made only passing mention of his professional accomplishments, instead highlighting a man who touched so many lives.
‘A light in my life’
On Instagram, “SYTYCD” judge Jojo Siwa said that Boss was a friend and a mentor “not just to me but to SO many.”
“I’ll never forget our time getting to work together on SYTYCD, he became such a light in my life,” Siwa wrote.
Siwa added that Boss was “someone I’ve looked up to since I was born turned one of my best friends” and “always had the best advice.”
“We had SO many laughs, smiles, and even cries together,” Siwa’s post said.
Another judge from the dance competition show, Matthew Morrison, reflected in his own Instagram post that it was “hard to make sense of this news.”
“Twitch was someone I’ve looked up to for years, and I was a little star struck when I first met him,” Morrison, an alum of Fox’s “Glee,” wrote. “But we connected so deeply in such a short time about so many things, but mostly fatherhood. The love for his family ran so deep and he was so proud of his tribe.”
He added, “Your mentorship, positivity, and talent were vibrating on a different level.”
Mary Murphy, judge and choreographer from the dance competition series, shared in a statement to CNN that her “soul is crying and aches on a cellular level.”
“I was a proud mama bear over Twitch. He was hungry, eager, and willing to do the work that would lift him in spirit and means,” she wrote.
Murphy shared that the first time she met Boss, “there was something about him. I call it twinkle eye because his eyes shined so much. His smile lit up the stage every time he stepped foot on it!”
She remembered that she and the “SYTYCD” team “were not easy on him” when he auditioned, telling him to “work hard and come back” three times, but on that third audition he nailed his solo perfectly. Murphy said it was “mesmerizing and a defining moment in Twitch’s dance career.”
A ‘tragic, painful loss’
Allison Holker Boss, Boss’s wife, confirmed in a statement to CNN on Wednesday that her husband had died at age 40.
Boss died by suicide, according to the LA County Medical Examiner. The LA County Coroner’s Office concluded their examination and published the report on his death on Wednesday.
In a statement to CNN, “SYTYCD” creator and judge Nigel Lythgoe wrote that Boss was “a man who fought his way through adversity” and “became an inspiration for so many people who watched his journey.”
“He was a magnificent example of overcoming adversity. Unfortunately one of the problems in our industry is keeping a happy smiling face for the public whatever our true feelings are,” he wrote. “I can’t imagine what extraordinary demons drove him into feeling that the only option he had was to end his life. My thoughts are now with his wife, Allison and his children.”
A statement from Fox Entertainment, 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions shared with CNN said Boss would always be remembered for “the light and joy he brought into our lives and into the hearts of so many.”
“This tragic, painful loss of such a radiant, inimitable talent and beloved friend is immeasurable beyond words, and we grieve alongside his family, loved ones and fans,” the statement said.
Other celebrities to mourn Boss’s passing included Questlove, who wrote on Instagram, “I have no words man. May his family find resolution in this dark time. May we all find peace of mind in our everyday lives. Everyday is a winding road and you just may never know who is on the edge. A lot of us can’t process emotions & how to deal with it.”
He added a call to readers to “take time out for yourselves if you feel like you’re on the edge.”
“Dancing With the Stars” performer Valentin Chmerkovskiy remembered Boss as “a man that had touched so many with his beautiful spirit and infectious smile” in an Instagram post.
Chmerkovskiy said Boss was “an example for me and so many of us,” not only “because of the success you had but the grace with which you carried it.”
Chmerkovskiy’s brother and fellow dancer Maksim Chmerkovskiy wrote that he was at a loss for words, and that “I have so much to say, but I just want to hold on to the memories I have and not try to wrap my head around this.”
“Stephen ‘Twitch’ Boss was the only man I’ve met in the entire industry who was loved by absolutely everyone,” the “Dancing with the Stars” pro wrote.
Leah Remini, who acted as a judge on “SYTYCD” alongside Boss, said he was “the guy who played and interacted with his fans in the audience during commercial breaks, and he encouraged all the contestants when the cameras weren’t rolling.”
“He had such a passion and love for dance and guiding artists and the contestants on the show,” she wrote.
Billy Porter asked readers on Instagram to “please check on your friends. Even the ‘strong’ ones, the ‘happy’ ones. We never know what folks are going thru.”
View this post on Instagram
Jada Pinkett Smith, who worked with Boss on “Magic Mike XXL,” called him “sweet, kind and generous.”
“So many people suffer in silence. I wish he could have known that he didn’t have to,” she wrote.
As many others did, singer-songwriter Ciara shared a clip of herself dancing alongside Boss (for Ciara’s, it was backstage at the “Ellen” show). She wrote in the caption that she was “crushed to hear the news” of his passing.
Ciara continued in her missive to Boss that she always knew him “as joy, laughter, good times, and a big smile! Heaven has gained an angel today!”
HGTV “Home Town” star Erin Napier shared a memory of working with Boss, writing in a tweet, “I spent an afternoon with him filming Ben’s Workshop and I was so impressed with he and (his wife) Allison’s easy kindness and playfulness with the precious kids we filmed with that day.”
She added how she remembered that “he radiated joy and genuine caring. This is so shocking. God bless their family.”