Deadliest Catch star Captain Phil Harris has died at the age of 53 from complications of a massive stroke. Harris was known on Deadliest Catch for his tough, rugged attitude and refusal to give up even under the harshest conditions. Harris began working on fishing boats when he was just seven years old. At 21, he became one of the youngest men to ever captain a vessel in the Bering Sea.

Captain Phil Harris (Photo: Discovery Channel)

Captain Phil Harris (Photo: Discovery Channel)

“It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to our dad – Captain Phil Harris. Dad has always been a fighter and continued to be until the end,” sons Josh and Jake Harris said in a press statement released by the Discovery Channel. “For us and the crew, he was someone who never backed down. We will remember and celebrate that strength. Thanks to everyone for their thoughts and prayers.”

Harris suffered a massive stroke on Jan. 29 while in port offloading crab from his ship, the Cornelia Marie. He was flown to Anchorage for emergency surgery and placed in a medically induced coma to recover. Last week, Harris seemed to be improving, squeezing hands and talking to doctors and nurses in his “trademark Captain’s bluntness,” according to his sons.

The Discovery Channel said in a press statement that Harris was “more than someone on our television screen. Phil was a devoted father and loyal friend to all who knew him. We will miss his straightforward honesty, wicked sense of humor and enormous heart.”

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