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BREAKING NEWS: Joe Paterno Near Death, Reports Say (UPDATED)

Rob Carr, Getty Images

Multiple news outlets are reporting that former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno is gravely ill and members of his family have been called to his side.

News organizations, including CBS Sports and PennLive.com, are citing a report from Onward State that Paterno is gravely ill and his family is rushing to his side. Onward State also is reporting Paterno was taken off a respirator earlier today.

OnwardState.com has since reported that Paterno has passed away, but Dan McGinn, the family’s spokesman, said at 7:57 p.m. CST that the story is “absolutely untrue.” At 7:22 p.m., Joe Paterno’s son, Jay, tweeted, “I appreciate the support & prayers. Joe is continuing to fight.”

Joe’s other son, Scott, tweeted something similar: “CBS report is wrong – Dad is alive but in serious condition. We continue to ask for your prayers and privacy during this time.”

Paterno, 85, was diagnosed with lung cancer Nov. 18 — just days after he was fired from Penn State following a sex abuse scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

The legendary football coach gave his first interview since the scandal last week with The Washington Post. In addition to being weakened by radiation and chemotherapy, Paterno also fell at his home and broke his pelvis, limiting him to a wheelchair.

The Associated Press is reporting a quote from his family that doctors have “characterized his status as serious.”

A family spokesman released this statement earlier today:

“Over the last few days Joe Paterno has experienced further health complications,” said Paterno family spokesman Dan McGinn. “His doctors have now characterized his status as serious. His family will have no comment on the situation and asks that their privacy be respected during this difficult time.”

We will update as more information comes available.

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