Just two days after Christmas, the radio community was rocked by news of Don Imus’ death — he was 79 years old. For undisclosed reasons, the radio host passed away at Baylor Scott and White Medical Center in College Station, Texas on Dec. 27, after being hospitalized on Christmas Eve, a representative told The Hollywood Reporter. His family remembered Don’s life in the following statement provided to the outlet: “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.”
HollywoodLife has reached out to Don’s rep for comment. Here’s what you should know about the radio host whose death has attracted much attention online.
1. Don’s claim to fame was his radio show, Imus in the Morning. New York’s WNBC launched the three-hour radio show in 1971. Its non-politically correct tone attracted a devout following from a Conservative demographic, and Conservative media figures like Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity shared tributes after Don’s death. Television host Larry King even shared a tweet, writing, “Saddened to hear about the passing of Don Imus. He was a giant in his industry, outspoken, controversial, charitable, a fighter and a friend. Condolences to [Don’s wife] Diedre [sic] and his family.”
2. Don sparked backlash after making racist comments about the Rutgers’ women’s basketball team. After the team made the N.C.A.A. finals in 2007, Don was met with outrage after he tastelessly described the women on the team as “rough” and “nappy-headed ‘hos.” The talented team was formed of mostly African-American women, and even former president Barack Obama decried the radio host, saying that Don “fed into some of the worst stereotypes that my two young daughters are having to deal with today in America.” CBS Radio and MSNBC cancelled his show soon afterwards, but Don kept the show alive after by signing a contract with Fox Business Network in 2009.
Saddened to hear about the passing of Don Imus. He was a giant in his industry, outspoken, controversial, charitable, a fighter and a friend. Condolences to Diedre and his family.
— Larry King (@kingsthings) December 28, 2019
3. The radio host was diagnosed with prostate cancer 10 years ago. Don revealed the news on Imus in the Morning in 2009, and revealed that he chose to opt of out radiation treatments in favor of a holistic path to betterment.
4. Don announced his retirement from radio hosting in Jan. 2019. The last Imus in the Morning show aired on March 18, 2019. He “tearfully expressed regret” over his racial comments from 2007 during the era-ending show, according to The New York Times.
5. Don contributed many funds to children with cancer. Alongside his wife Deirdre Imus, 55, Don founded a 4,000-acre ranch near Ribera, New Mexico in 1999, where children with cancer could spend their summers. Childhood cancer was Don’s main philanthropy focus, along with kids who lost siblings to sudden infant death syndrome. He raised “millions” for these children, according to the NYT.