It was an emotional day for Joe Paterno fans. A crowd of 12,000 people gathered at the Penn State basketball arena on Thursday, paying tribute to the life of the legendary football coach, who died on Sunday from lung cancer. He was 85.
One of the most vivid moments captured at the ceremony was that of Joe Paterno's wife, Sue, who stood embracing her grief stricken grandson. Many tears were shed throughout the ceremony. Family and fans alike, paid their tributes in honor of Paterno's 46-year career.
Paterno's son Jay, told the crowd how he had leaned over his dying father and said, Dad, you won. You did all you could do. You've done enough. We all love you. We won. You can go home now.
Paterno coached Penn State for 46 seasons. He was heralded for winning two national championships and having five undefeated seasons, before he was fired in 2011 after facing questions about his handling of allegations in a child sex-abuse scandal involving his colleague, Jerry Sandusky.
The memorial service was also an opportunity for fans to defend the football coach's legacy against criticism that he failed to act when informed of the alleged child sex-abuse claims.
Despite all that had happened to him, he never wavered in his belief, in his dream, of Penn State. He told me he wanted to use his remaining time on earth to see Penn State continue to thrive. He never spoke ill and never wanted anyone to feel badly for him, Jay Paterno said.
Nike founder and CEO, Phil Knight, defended Paterno at the ceremony, hinting to the 12,000 crowd that Paterno had been used as a scapegoat in the case, the Daily Mail reported.
'If there is a villain in this tragedy, it lies in that investigation and not in Joe Paterno's response,' he said
Player's from different seasons of Paterno's career spoke with loving words about their coach, saying he had rode them hard but always had their best interests at heart, the Washington Post reported.
Start to Slideshow to view pictures from the ceremony.