He was a staple at Penn State and the Pennsylvania community. Brooklyn, NY native Joe Paterno fought util the end, but Sunday morning he lost his battle with lung cancer. Paterno coached Penn State for 61 years before being fired after controversy hit the college campus.
Jerry Sandusky served as Paterno’s assistant coach for over 30 years. It was the scandal that followed which would lead to Paterno’s demise. After his arrest, Paterno was fired days later. The Penn State community was in outrage of the school’s decision.
But Joe, being the kind spirited man that he was, encouraged the youth to be on their best behavior and respect Penn State’s decision. Although, he took the firing gracefully, many speculated that internally, removing him from the game he loved, sentenced him to a slow death.
An emotional statement released by his family this morning captured the essence of Joe:
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.
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.
Alumni, former players, and fans flooded Twitter with responses upon hearing Paterno’s death:
In the end, lung cancer didn’t kill Joe Paterno, Penn State University did. When you took away his job, you took away his will to live. I can only speculate how hurt he must’ve felt at the alleged victims over the hands of his assistant head coach. It was probably a pain he took to the grave.
May you rest in peace Joe Pa!
Source: Twitter, ABCNews
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