While often crafting key legislation on civil rights and education, Kennedy's problems continued with a reputation for drinking. It wasn't until he met his second wife Vicki, whom he married in 1992, that he settled down and solidified the legacy that has formed around his nearly 50 years in the Senate.
"This is a man who I think should be seen as a story of redemption," Newsweek's Jon Meachem told "GMA." "It makes it more interesting, and I think it's more accurate."
"I think you can see the last 40 years to let the 'better angels of his nature,' as Lincoln said, win out," Meachem said.
Leaders from around the world today mourned Kennedy, many of them praising the Irish-American politician for his role in bringing peace to Northern Ireland.
Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen described Kennedy as "a great friend of Ireland," thanking him for using "his considerable influence in the world's most powerful parliament for the betterment of this island."
"In good days and bad," Cowen said, "Ted Kennedy worked valiantly for the cause of peace on this island... Today, America has lost a great and respected statesman ,and Ireland has lost a long-standing and true friend."
In the United Kingdom, Kennedy was mourned by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who called Kennedy "the senator of senators."
"Sen. Edward Kennedy will be mourned not just in America but in every continent," Brown said. Britain honored Kennedy with a knighthood in March of this year.