Beau Biden -- the eldest son of US Vice President Joe Biden and a rising star of a political dynasty -- has died after battling brain cancer. He was 46.
Beau, the former attorney general of Delaware, had been admitted recently to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda as he fought the cancer, a battle that his father largely kept private.
"The entire Biden family is saddened beyond words. We know that Beau's spirit will live on in all of us -- especially through his brave wife, Hallie, and two remarkable children, Natalie and Hunter," Vice President Biden said in a statement released last night.
"Beau embodied my father's saying that a parent knows success when his child turns out better than he did," the vice president said. "In the words of the Biden family: Beau Biden was, quite simply, the finest man any of us have ever known."
US President Barack Obama, said in a statement, "Michelle and I are grieving tonight. Beau Biden was a friend of ours. His beloved family -- Hallie, Natalie, and Hunter – are friends of ours. And Joe and Jill Biden are as good as friends get."
"Like his dad, Beau was a good, big-hearted, devoutly Catholic and deeply faithful man, who made a difference in the lives of all he touched -- and he lives on in their hearts," the president said.
Obama called it a "a testament to Joe and Jill -- to who they are -- that Beau lived a life that was full; a life that mattered; a life that reflected their reverence for family."
Beau became a national political star in 2008 after delivering a stirring introduction of his father at the Democratic National Convention in Denver the night Joe Biden accepted the nomination for vice president.
A little more than a month later, Beau deployed to Iraq and served there for one year. Beau was awarded the Bronze Star.
Beau, a major in the Delaware Army National Guard's Judge Advocate General Corps, became one of his state's most popular public figures. As Delaware's Attorney General, he fought for the powerless and made it his mission to protect children from abuse, Biden said.
Beau was being considered the front-runner for the 2016 race to become the state's next governor, but in August 2013 he was admitted to one of the world's most renowned cancer treatment centres, MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, to begin his fight with the disease.
According to the Vice President's office, Beau underwent surgery in Houston in 2013 and then followed a normal course of radiation and chemotherapy. By November 2013, he had been given a clean bill of health, but after a recurrence this spring, he began an aggressive treatment and was admitted to Walter Reed this month.
Image: Eric Thayer/Reuters