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Joe Paterno, 85, dies in State College
Sunday, 22 January 2012

ESPN.com news services

Joe Paterno has died at the age of 85 after experiencing serious complications from lung-cancer treatment.

The health of Paterno, who had fought the disease for two months, had grown progressively worse after he recently broke his pelvis in a fall at his home in State College, Pa.

"It is with great sadness that we announce that Joe Paterno passed away earlier today," said a statement from Paterno's family, released Sunday, shortly after 10 a.m. ET. "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." Paterno died at State College's Mount Nittany Medical Center, where he had been undergoing treatment.  Paterno remained connected to a ventilator into Sunday, individuals close to Paterno's family told The Washington Post.

The newspaper reported the family had communicated to the hospital his wishes not to be kept alive through extreme artificial means.  Paterno's cancer diagnosis was revealed Nov. 18, nine days after he lost his Penn State head coaching job in the fallout of sexual abuse charges against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. Jay Paterno, one of Paterno's sons, thanked fans for their support Saturday. "I appreciate the support & prayers. Joe is continuing to fight," Jay Paterno wrote on his own Twitter account.

   Paterno won two national championships and a Division I-record 409 games over 46 seasons at Penn State and the family has donated millions of dollars to the school.

But his legacy was clouded in the wake of a sexual abuse scandal that has resulted in 52 counts of child molestation against Sandusky. Paterno had announced his retirement early on Nov. 9, but the Penn State board of trustees fired him and university president Graham Spanier about 12 hours later. That day, Paterno called the scandal "one of the great sorrows of my life. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more."

In his first public statements since the scandal broke, Paterno recently told The Washington Post that he did not know how to deal with the situation when he received a report from a graduate assistant that his former defensive coordinator was accused of abusing a boy in the showers.  "I didn't know exactly how to handle it and I was afraid to do something that might jeopardize what the university procedure was," he told The Post in an extensive two-day interview at his home. "So I backed away and turned it over to some other people, people I thought would have a little more expertise than I did. It didn't work out that way."

Police on Saturday night barricaded off the block where Paterno lives, and a police car was stationed about 50 yards from his home. A light was on in the living room but there was no activity inside. No one was outside, other than reporters and photographers stationed there.

About 200 students and townspeople gathered in State College at a statue of Paterno just outside a gate at Beaver Stadium. Some brought candles, while others held up their smart phones to take photos of the scene. The mood was somber, with no chanting or shouting.

Jay Paterno tweeted, "Drove by students at the Joe statue. Just told my Dad about all the love & support--inspiring him."

 
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