Sunday, January 22, 2012

Joe Paterno dies at 85

Happy Valley was perfect for Joe Paterno, a place where "JoePa" knew best, where he not only won more football games than any other major college coach, but won them the right way: with integrity and sportsmanship. A place where character came first, championships second.

Behind it all, however, was an ugly secret that ran counter to everything the revered coach stood for.

Paterno, a sainted figure at Penn State for almost half a century but scarred forever by the child sex abuse scandal that led to his stunning dismissal, died Sunday at age 85.

His death came just 65 days after his son Scott said his father had been diagnosed with a treatable form of lung cancer. The cancer was found during a follow-up visit for a bronchial illness. A few weeks later, Paterno broke his pelvis after a fall but did not need surgery.

Mount Nittany Medical Center said in a statement that Paterno died at 9:25 a.m. of "metastatic small cell carcinoma of the lung." Metastatic indicates an illness that has spread from one part of the body to an unrelated area.

The hospital says Paterno was surrounded by family members, who have requested privacy.

Paterno had been in the hospital since Jan. 13 for observation after what his family called minor complications from his cancer treatments. Not long before that, he conducted his only interview since losing his job, with The Washington Post. Paterno was described as frail then, speaking mostly in a whisper and wearing a wig. The second half of the two-day interview was conducted at his bedside.

His family released a statement Sunday morning to announce his death: "His loss leaves a void in our lives that will never be filled."

"He died as he lived," the statement said. "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."

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reactions

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4/5/12 - Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett wanted Paterno fired reports ESPN. Allegations denied

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7/22/12 - Joe Paterno statue removed

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8/18/12 - JoePa didn't understand
8/21/12 - Paterno the book

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