Joe Paterno, the legendary Penn State football coach who was fired last November in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal, has died at age 85. Paterno had been battling lung cancer, and his health recently declined.

The Paterno family released the following statement:

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.

When he decided to forego a career in law and make coaching his vocation, his father Angelo had but one command: make an impact.

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.

Paterno won two national championships and a Division I-record 409 football games over 46 seasons at Penn State, where he was treated like a living legend, with a statue of Paterno just outside a gate at Beaver Stadium. He also holds the record for the most years spent as a head coach at one school.

But his legacy was tainted by the Sandusky scandal which came out last fall, and ultimately cost him his job. In his first public statements about the scandal, Paterno said he was afraid of "making a mistake" when he received a report from a graduate assistant that his former defensive coordinator was accused of abusing a boy in the showers: "I didn’t know exactly how to handle it and I was afraid to do something that might jeopardize what the university procedure was,” he told the Washington Post. “So I backed away and turned it over to some other people, people I thought would have a little more expertise than I did. It didn’t work out that way.”

Last night, there were erroneous reports that Paterno had died, many from a CBS Sports article which had stemmed from an Onward State report. The Managing Editor of Onward State apologized on Facebook, and resigned over the error: "I never, in a million years, would have thought that Onward State would be cited by the national media, and today, I sincerely wish it never had been." CBS Sports expressed no such contrition, but simply said that it "went on" the Onward State report.