Breaking: Ted Kennedy has died

Senator Edward (Ted) Kennedy has died of brain cancer, ABC News is reporting.

Kennedy died shortly before midnight at his home in Hyannis Port, MA. The Kennedy family has released a statement:

“Edward M. Kennedy – the husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle we loved so deeply – died late Tuesday night at home in Hyannis Port,” the statement said. “We’ve lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever. We thank everyone who gave him care and support over this last year, and everyone who stood with him for so many years in his tireless march for progress toward justice, fairness and opportunity for all. He loved this country and devoted his life to serving it. He always believed that our best days were still ahead, but it’s hard to imagine any of them without him.”

Kennedy was one of only six senators to serve 40 or more years in the Senate, and in the days leading up to his death, Kennedy was urged to vacate his Senate seat due to his failing health. Sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver died earlier this month, and Ted was the youngest and only surviving Kennedy brother. The New York Times lists his survivors:

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Mr. Kennedy is survived by his wife, known as Vicki; two sons, Edward M. Kennedy Jr. of Branford, Conn., and United States Representative Patrick J. Kennedy of Rhode Island; a daughter, Kara Kennedy Allen, of Bethesda, Md.; two stepchildren, Curran Raclin and Caroline Raclin, and four grandchildren. His former wife, Joan Kennedy, lives in Boston.

Mr. Kennedy is also survived by a sister, Jean Kennedy Smith, of New York. On Tuesday, his sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver of Potomac, Md., died at age 88. Another sister, Patricia Lawford Kennedy, died in 2006. His sister Rosemary died in 2005, and his sister Kathleen died in a plane crash in 1948.

Despite his privileged upbringing, Kennedy was somewhat of a champion for the poor and working man in America. His influence was well ingrained in the current ongoing battle to reform healthcare, an issue Kennedy called “the cause of my life.”

Senator Ted Kennedy was 77 at the time of his death.