STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Joe Paterno, the longtime Penn State coach who won more games than anyone in major college football but was fired amid a child sex abuse scandal that scarred his reputation for winning with integrity, died Sunday of lung cancer. He was 85.
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."
The Pennsylvania hospital where Paterno died confirmed the cause of death as a spreading lung cancer.
Mount Nittany Medical Center said in a statement that Paterno died at 9:25 a.m. Sunday 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 said Paterno was surrounded by family members, who have requested privacy.
Paterno's son had said in November that his father had been diagnosed with a treatable form of lung cancer during a follow-up visit for a bronchial illness.
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Paterno built his program on the credo "Success with Honor," and he found both. The man known as "JoePa" won 409 games and took the Nittany Lions to 37 bowl games and two national championships. More than 250 of the players he coached went on to the NFL.
"He will go down as the greatest football coach in the history of the game," Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said