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Former NY governor Mario Cuomo dies at 82

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NEW YORK (PIX11/CNN) -- Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo has died at the age of 82 on New Year's Day, his son Chris Cuomo confirmed.

Cuomo died just hours after son Gov. Andrew Cuomo was sworn in for his second-term at the World Trade Center.

Andrew Cuomo remarked during his inaugural address that his father was too ill to attend.

"He couldn't be here physically today, my father," the governor said. "But my father is in this room. He's in the heart and mind of every person who is here and his inspiration and his legacy and his experience is what has brought this state to this point."

Mario Cuomo had been hospitalized in recent weeks for a heart condition.

He was born in New York City, in the apartment above his father's grocery store. After a brief shot at a career in minor league baseball, Cuomo pursued a law degree and graduated at the top of his class from St. John's University School of Law.

Although the allure of public service was strong, his early attempts at seeking political office ended in defeat.

Cuomo's first electoral success came in 1978 as running mate to former New York Gov. Hugh Carey. Four years later, Carey stepped aside, and Cuomo entered the race and won.

The Governor presented 11 balanced budgets while in office and implemented comprehensive governmental ethics and fiscal reforms, according to an official statement.

President Barack Obama praise Cuomo for his faith in God and championing of progressive values in a statement issued by the White House.

"His own story taught him that as Americans, we are bound together as one people, and our country's success rests on the success of all of us, not just a fortunate few," the President said.

Cuomo announced Bill Clinton's nomination for President at the 1992 Democratic Convention.

"It was Mario Cuomo's great gift and our good fortune that he was both a sterling orator and a passionate public servant. His life was a blessing," Clinton said in a statement.

Jon Favreau, a former speechwriter for President Barack Obama, praised Cuomo's 1984 address as one of his all-time favorite speeches.

"Used to read it constantly for inspiration," he tweeted.

Cuomo's death touched people across the political spectrum.

"Our country and our region lost a giant today with the passing of Governor Mario Cuomo," New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said in a statement. "He was a strong, eloquent leader who loved New York and its people. As an Italian-American, he was also a role model for future generations that anything was possible through hard work and education."

The Rev. Al Sharpton remembered the former governor as "the last liberal giant of New York politics."

"He was a philosopher at heart that always saw the bigger picture. Even when we would engage in debate I felt he was playing chess while I was playing checkers," he said. "Mario, you have earned it and your place in history is secure. You can now sleep with the greats."

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has ordered flags flying in the city that were lowered to half staff in honor of slain NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu to remain lowered for 30 days to honor Cuomo's memory.

de Blasio commended the late former governor's humanity in a statement:

"Mario Cuomo was a man of unwavering principle who possessed a compassion for humankind that was without equal."

He held the governorship for three terms, winning two more handily by emphasizing lower taxes, balanced budgets, public education and affirmative action.He won national attention with his keynote address at the 1984 Democratic National Convention.

He was married to his wife, Matilda, for more than six decades. They had five children.

Asked once how we wanted to be remembered, Mario Cuomo replied: "One of the simple things I wanted to achieve is -- I want to be governor. I want to be the hardest working there ever was. And I want, when it's over -- and I figured on four years at first -- I want people to say, now, there was an honest person."