Washington: Former White House press secretary James Brady, who was seriously wounded during an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan in 1981 and became a symbol of the fight for gun control, has died. He was 73.
"We are heartbroken to share the news that our beloved Jim `Bear` Brady has passed away after a series of health issues," his family said in a statement, according to NBC News. The White House press briefing room is named after him.
The news broke, during the daily White House news conference by Press Secretary Josh Earnest.
"I was aware that Mr Brady was in failing health in recent days, and I was saddened when I first learned of that," Earnest told reporters.
"He is somebody who really revolutionised this job and even after he was wounded in that attack on the president, was somebody who showed his patriotism and commitment to the country by being very outspoken that on an issue that was important to him and that he felt very strongly about," the press secretary said.
"He leaves a legacy that certainly this press secretary and all future press secretaries will aspire to live up to," Earnest said.
"Jim touched the lives of so many and has been a wonderful husband, father, friend and role model," his family said in the statement.
"We are enormously proud of Jim`s remarkable accomplishments - before he was shot on the fateful day in 1981 while service at the side of President Ronald Reagan and in the days, months, and years that followed," it added.
"Jim Brady`s zest for life was apparent to all who knew him, and despite his injuries and the pain he endured every day, he used his humour, wit and charm to bring smiles to others and make the world a better place," the statement said.
Brady last visited the White House press briefing room in June 2009.
Less than three months after being named press secretary, Brady was shot in head on March 30, 1981, while he walked beside the president outside a Washington hotel.
Reagan also was gravely wounded but returned to the White House 12 days after being hit in the chest by a bullet that ricocheted off a car. His press secretary received the most grievous injuries and was left partially paralysed, had permanently slurred speech and spent the rest of his life largely confined to a wheelchair.
Later, he recovered enough to be a leading national advocate for gun control.