Updated 01/22/2012 05:29 PM
Former Penn State Coach Joe Paterno Dies
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Family members announced that former Penn State coach Joe Paterno died Sunday at age 85, after suffering from complications from lung cancer.
A native of Flatbush, Brooklyn, Paterno attended Saint Edmund Elementary School and Brooklyn Preparatory High School and gave up a career in law to coach football.
He coached the Nittany Lions for 46 years and won 409 games, more than any other coach in major college football history.
Among the former Penn State athletes coached by Paterno is New York Giants offensive tackle Kareem McKenzie, whose team played in Sunday's National Football Conference Championship game in San Francisco.
Student enrollment at Penn State more than tripled since Paterno first led the football team. He raised millions of dollars for the college and donated more than $4 million himself.
In the early 2000s, with his team slumping and players running afoul of the law, Paterno ignored critics who were calling for him to step aside. Instead, he returned the team to its winning ways.
However, just seven days after Penn State beat Illinois for Paterno's record 409th win in 2011, the coach's former longtime defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, turned himself in to police.
Sandusky was charged with sexually abusing children over a 15-year period, which included his time as a Penn State assistant coach.
A grand jury report stated that Paterno was told about an incident in 2002 by one of his former players, who was then a graduate assistant. Paterno reported what he was told to Penn State's athletic director, but the information was never passed along to police.
Public outrage was swift and loud, and on November 9, 2011, the university fired Paterno, ending a career that spanned more than 60 years.
Days later, Paterno's son announced the former coach had been diagnosed with lung cancer.
Paterno was hospitalized on January 13 for what his family described as minor complications from cancer treatment.
In a Sunday statement, Paterno's family said, "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. He was a man devoted to his family, his university, his players and his community."
Penn State President Rodney Erickson said in a statement, “We grieve for the loss of Joe Paterno, a great man who made us a greater university. His dedication to ensuring his players were successful both on the field and in life is legendary and his commitment to education is unmatched in college football. His life, work and generosity will be remembered always.”
The death of the former coach was mistakenly reported on Saturday, after a student-run Penn State news organization made a false announcement on Twitter.
Paterno is survived by five children and 17 grandchildren. His family wants donations to be made to the Special Olympics of Pennsylvania or the Penn State-THON.