EXCLUSIVE: Christopher 'Big Black' Boykin's Ex-Wife Opens Up About His Final Days: 'It's Been Hard'

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Following the death of Christopher "Big Black" Boykin on Tuesday, the reality star's ex-wife, Shannon Turley, is opening up about his passing and the legacy he leaves behind.
Turley spoke with ET on Wednesday, one day after Boykin's death, and reflected on what she will remember the most about her former husband, with whom she shares a 9-year-old daughter, Isis.
"He was a great father. That was the best thing about him," she recalled. "He worked his ass off. Nothing was handed to him."
According to Turley, their daughter is "having a hard time dealing" with the loss, but they are getting a lot of support from their family, and Isis is "doing a little bit better."
Boykin -- best known as the star of the popular MTV reality series Rob & Big, alongside skateboarder Rob Dyrdek -- died on Tuesday at a hospital in Plano, Texas, after reportedly suffering a heart attack. He was 45.
According to Turley, Boykin had spent the last few days in the hospital, and the staff called her to tell her his condition had gotten worse. She drove straight to the facility with their daughter, but weren't able to see him before he died.
"We were trying to make it there and we were about twenty minutes away, and right when we got there, it was too late," Turley reflected. "It was tough. We were right there."
"[Isis] wanted to see him, so we went in the room and she didn’t really understand what was going on. But I think she's understanding it now," she continued. "She’s just having a hard time trying to figure out what exactly is going on. [But] she has a lot of family around her right now. A lot of love."
The TV personality had been struggling with heart problems "for a long time," according to his ex, and he had been suffering from congenital heart failure for a decade.
"He's had a defibrillator in his chest for over 10 years," Turley shared. "No one would know. It’s been hard. The past year, he's been in and out of the hospital a few times."
Turley explained that doctors had had been telling Boykin that he'd likely need a heart transplant "for the past year or two," but that he hadn't been ready for the operation, and his heart giving out came more suddenly than expected.
"He was just tired," Turley said. "He did what he could."
Despite their divorce, Boykin and Turley had remained close, and the reality star was staying with his ex-wife and their daughter before he was admitted to the hospital a few days ago.
"He lived with us, so we all got to be together," she said. "We had so much fun together."
The last time Turley spoke with Boykin was two days before he died, when she and Isis visited him in the hospital.
"He gave me a kiss on my hand. That was the last thing we did," Turley recounted, adding that she's glad their daughter got to see him when he was happy and "totally peaceful," before he passed. "It was the way that God had planned it."
Now, Turley says that she and Boykin's brother are planning his memorial service.
"He didn’t want a big thing. He wanted it to be private. So we will probably keep it that way," she explained. "A lot of family is flying in [to the Dallas area] tonight."
Looking back, Turley said that if there was one thing she could tell Boykin today, she'd "just tell him I love him. [But] he already knows."
Reporting by Brendon Geoffrion