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.

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

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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.

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