The most famous and an award-winning physicist Stephen Hawking has died early Wednesday morning, at the age of 76, a family spokesman told ABC News

The family did not disclose the cause of death but said he “died peacefully” at his home in Cambridge, England.
Hawking was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 1963 at the age of 21. He was expected to live for just two more years, but he had a form of the disease that progressed far more slowly. He survived for more than half a century beyond that prognosis.

“We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today. He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years,” the family said in a statement. “His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humor inspired people across the world. He once said, ‘It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.’ We will miss him forever.”

Stephen Hawking leaves behind his wife, Lucy, and two sons, Robert and Tim. They thanked his fans who have “been by Professor Hawking’s side –- and supported him -– throughout his life.”

Stephen Hawking was considered one of the leading voices in science. He was known for his work on gravitational singularity theorems in the framework of general relativity and the theoretical prediction that black holes emit radiation.

“I never expected to reach 75, so I feel very fortunate to be able to reflect on my legacy,” Stephen Hawking said in a BBC interview last year.

Hawking, achieved worldwide fame when his popular science books “A Brief History of Time” and “The Universe in a Nutshell,” became a global best seller.

He made several major discoveries throughout his career, and once said said his greatest achievement was his discovery that black holes are not entirely black.

“I think my greatest achievement will be my discovery that black holes are not entirely black,” he said, adding how that discovery would be critical to “understanding how paradoxes between quantum mechanics and general relativity can be resolved.”

When asked about his best fatherly advice in a 2010 interview with ABC’s “World New Tonight,” Hawking responded: “Here are the most important pieces of advice that I’ve passed on to my children: One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it. Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember is it rare and don’t throw it away.”