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Franco Harris, Hall of Fame Steelers running back, dies at 72

KDKA-TV Sports' Rich Walsh on Franco Harris' legacy
KDKA-TV Sports' Rich Walsh on Franco Harris' legacy 05:12

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Legendary Steelers running back and Pro Football Hall of Famer Franco Harris has died.

Harris' death has been confirmed to KDKA-TV by his family.

The four-time Super Bowl champion and nine-time Pro Bowler was drafted by the Steelers with the 13th overall pick in 1972 after playing for Joe Paterno at Penn State.

During his illustrious NFL career, Harris rushed for over 11,000 yards with the Steelers, the leading rusher in team history, also having been named the MVP of Super Bowl IX.

Franco Harris #32, Running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers during the NFL/AFC Divisional playoff game on 19 December 1976 at the Memorial Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland, United States. The Steelers won the game 40 - 14. (Photo by Bob Grieser/Allsport/Getty Images)

Harris became part of history forever with his "Immaculate Reception" at Three Rivers Stadium in the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs on December 23, 1972. 

His death comes just two days before the Steelers plan to celebrate and honor the 50th anniversary of what has been deemed the best play in NFL history by many. 

A member of the Steelers Hall of Honor, Harris was set to have his #32 jersey retired by the team on Saturday, joining Ernie Stautner and Joe Greene as the only two other players in franchise history to have their numbers retired.

Harris was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990.

"We are truly heartbroken," his family said in a statement. "The reality of losing such a magnificent individual has not yet settled in. We have shared Franco with so many people throughout our lives and in so many ways. Beyond his incredible career in the NFL Franco represents what is best in humanity: kindness, charity, decency, and humility. He led by example on and off the field with the goal of making this a better world for us all. We know he has touched so many of you and we mourn with you. We will remain steadfast in living and achieving the world that he wanted to build."

Franco Harris was 72 years old.  

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