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Family releases statement after John Lewis death

The Georgia congressman and civil rights icon passed away on Friday.

ATLANTA — The family of John Lewis has released a statement announcing the death of the congressman from Georgia.

The statement said:

"It is with inconsolable grief and enduring sadness that we announce the passing of U.S. Rep. John Lewis.  He was honored and respected as the conscience of the US Congress and an icon of American history, but we knew him as a loving father and brother. He was a stalwart champion in the on-going struggle to demand respect for the dignity and worth of every human being.  He dedicated his entire life to non-violent activism and was an outspoken advocate in the struggle for equal justice in America.  He will be deeply missed."

Lewis passed away on July 17, nearly seven months after he announced that he had stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

He was 80 years old.

A timeline of events in the life of Rep. John Lewis

Rep. John Lewis rose from poverty to become a leader of the civil rights movement before being elected to Congress. 

Lewis was born in rural Alabama on Feb. 21, 1940, during the dark days of Jim Crow segregation. He was beaten by Alabama state troopers while leading voting rights marchers in 1965, and he entered politics by winning a seat on the Atlanta City Council in 1981. 

Lewis then won his first congressional race in 1986 and was re-elected 16 times by a wide margin each election. His honors include the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

(Associated Press)

Paying tribute to John Lewis

Tributes began pouring in immediately after news of Lewis' death began to spread.

NBA star Lebron James tweeted, "Rest. In. Paradise John Lewis. #CivilRightsICON THANK YOU!!"

Bill Gates tweeted, " This is a great loss for America, and for everyone who believes in making the world a more just place. John Lewis not only saw that our country could be better--he never stopped working to make it that way. We need leaders like him more than ever."

Bernice King, the daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr., tweeted, "#CTVivian and #JohnLewis have journeyed on together.  Two great vessels for the work of justice, including for voting rights for Black people in America.  It’s not happenstance that, in this critical hour, with so much on the line in November, their lives are lifted high."

More coverage on the death of John Lewis:

 John Lewis, maker of ‘good trouble,’ dies

 John Lewis, civil rights icon and congressman, dead at 80

President Obama says John Lewis left us his 'marching orders'

Tributes to Rep. John Lewis shared by civil rights luminaries, colleagues, celebrities across the globe