The following year, actor and director Clint Eastwood delivered his Academy award-winning film, "Invictus," telling the story of Mandela's efforts to unite the people of South Africa through a national rugby team in 1995. The title of the film came from a short Victorian poem by the same name that Mandela was known for reciting.
In the end, the boy who was named "troublemaker" became one of the greatest peacemakers of the past century.
He will be greatly remembered as a symbol of the fight for human rights, and as a leader who healed a greatly divided nation in the face of overwhelming odds.
ABC News' Lauren Effron contributed to this report.