By Sydney Bucksbaum
December 27, 2019 at 06:22 PM EST
Deborah Feingold/Getty Images

Controversial radio personality Don Imus has died. He was 79.

The veteran radio host who broadcasted Imus in the Morning for nearly 50 years died on Friday morning after being hospitalized on Christmas Eve, according to a family statement provided to several news outlets. THR was first to report the news. The cause of death was not given.

The Imus family said in a statement: “Don loved and adored Deirdre, who unconditionally loved him back, loved spending his time watching Wyatt become a highly skilled, champion rodeo rider and calf roper, and loved and supported Zachary, who first met the Imus family at age 10 when he participated in the Imus Ranch program for kids with cancer, having battled and overcome leukemia, eventually becoming a member of the Imus family and Don and Deirdre’s second son.”

The shock jock announced his retirement from radio less than two years ago, with his last day on the radio on March 29, 2018. “Turn out the lights…the party’s over,” Imus tweeted.

Born in Riverside, Calif., Imus made a name for himself for his controversial and offensive comments on the air. In 2007, after he was initially served a two-week suspension, CBS fired Imus for racist and sexist remarks against the Rutgers women’s basketball team. Imus in the Morning was canceled as a result. He returned to radio shortly after on a new network, but made waves once again due to racist statements about the suspension of Cowboys’ player Adam Jones. Throughout his career, he continued to be called out for racist, misogynist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic remarks.

Imus is survived by his wife Deirdre and their children Wyatt, Lt. Zachary Don Cates, Nadine, Ashley, Elizabeth, and Toni.

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