Joe Paterno Dies At 85 After Fight With Lung Cancer

Joe Paterno died Sunday morning due to complications from a two-month fight with lung cancer, his family confirmed in a statement to the Associated Press. The former Penn State football coach, who won more games than anyone else in major college football history, was 85 years old. The full text of his family's statement appears below:

It is with great sadness that we announce that Joe Paterno passed away earlier today. His loss leaves a void in our lives that will never be filled.

He died as he lived. He fought hard until the end, stayed positive, thought only of others and constantly reminded everyone of how blessed his life had been. His ambitions were far reaching, but he never believed he had to leave this Happy Valley to achieve them. He was a man devoted to his family, his university, his players and his community.

He has been many things in his life - a soldier, scholar, mentor, coach, friend and father. To my mother he was and is her soul mate, and the last several weeks have shown the strength of their love. To his children and grandchildren he is a shining example of how to live a good, decent and honest life, a standard to which we aspire.

When he decided to forego a career in law and make coaching his vocation, his father Angelo had but one command: Make an impact.

As the last 61 years have shown, Joe made an incredible impact. That impact has been felt and appreciated by our family in the form of thousands of letters and well wishes along with countless acts of kindness from people whose lives he touched. It is evident also in the thousands of successful student athletes who have gone on to multiply that impact as they spread out across the country.

And so he leaves us with a peaceful mind, comforted by his "living legacy" of five kids, 17 grandchildren, and hundreds of young men whose lives he changed in more ways than can begin to be counted.

In lieu of flowers or gifts, the family requests that donations be made to the Special Olympics of Pennsylvania or the Penn State-THON, The Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon.

Paterno, fired by the university's Board of Trustees in November 2011 at the height of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, was in declining health after being removed from his duties. His son, Scott, made Paterno's lung cancer public in November, and Paterno fell and fractured his pelvis in December. He had been in and out of a hospital near his State College home, receiving treatment for cancer and other illness, but was reportedly taken off a respirator early on Saturday.

Paterno was Penn State's head coach for 46 years, and coached football at the school from 1950 until 2011. His final win came in his penultimate game as Penn State's head coach, with the Nittany Lions defeating Illinois in October, and gave Paterno the Division I-A/FBS record for most wins by a head coach, passing Grambling's Eddie Robinson.

Paterno is survived by his wife of nearly 50 years, the former Susan Pohland, five children, and 17 grandchildren.

Andy Hutchins contributed to this report.

For more on Paterno, visit Penn State blog Black Shoe Diaries. For more college football, stay tuned to SB Nation's college football news hub.

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