COLLEGE STATION, Texas (CBS NEWS) – Controversial radio personality Don Imus has died, his representative confirmed to CBS News. He was 79.

A statement said Imus died Friday morning at Baylor Scott and White Medical Center in College Station, Texas, after being hospitalized since Christmas Eve.

READ MORE: Mesquite Officer Dies After Shooting Outside Grocery Store

WFAN host Mike Francesa, a longtime friend, called Imus “one of the true giants in the history of radio.”

READ MORE: Officials React To Mesquite Officer Killed On Duty

Imus spent more than 50 years on the air. Time magazine once named the cantankerous host as one of the 25 Most Influential People in America, and he is a member of the National Broadcaster Hall of Fame.

But his career almost came to a halt in April 2007 after an ugly on-air remark. Imus referred to members of the Rutgers women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hos.” His syndicated radio show on CBS was canceled, and MSNBC canceled his TV show.

MORE NEWS: Fort Worth ISD Hopes To Hire Teachers 'On The Spot,' Offering Huge Incentives