Joe Paterno died as his lung cancer spread; his family releases statement

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Joe Paterno died because the cancer in his lungs was spreading, hospital officials confirmed Sunday.

In a statement, Mount Nittany Medical Center said the former Penn State football coach died of “metastatic small cell carcinoma of the lung.”


Paterno died at 9:25 a.m. EST while surrounded by family, the hospital said.

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A short time later, the family released a statement announcing Paterno’s passing and saying his loss “leaves a void in our lives that will never be filled.”

“He died as he lived,” the statement continued. “He fought hard until the end, stayed positive, thought only of others and constantly reminded everyone of how blessed his life had been.... He was a man devoted to his family, his university, his players and his community.

“As the last 61 years have shown, Joe made an incredible impact,” the statement continued. “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.”

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In November, shortly after he was fired in the wake of child sex abuse allegations against former longtime assistant Jerry Sandusky, Paterno was diagnosed with what his family said was a treatable form of lung cancer during a follow-up visit for a bronchial illness.


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--Mike Hiserman