MLB legend Hank Aaron dies at 86

Aaron's death was confirmed by his daughter

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Hall of Fame Atlanta Braves legend and standard bearer in baseball Hank Aaron has died at the age of 86.

Aaron reportedly died in his sleep on Friday morning and his death was confirmed by his daughter, WSBTV reported. A cause of death has not yet been revealed for the Major League Baseball record holder who broke Babe Ruth‘s home run record in 1973 with 714.

Muhammad Ali also paid respect to Aaron and his sweet swing and once declared, “The only man I idolize more than myself.”

Hank Aaron thegrio.com
(Photo by Matt Slocum-Pool/Getty Images)

Read More: MLB’s Hank Aaron publicly vaccinated to show Black community shots are safe

The tributes immediately began to pour in for the icon whose stats included winning the NL MVP in 1957, 25 All-Star teams, and three Gold Gloves. He retired in 1976, ending his career with an impressive 755 home runs. Barry Bonds broke the long-lasting record, which stood for 30 years, in 2007.

Hammerin’ Hank, as he was affectionately called, had 2,297 runs and was total base leader with 6,856. His jerseys with the Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers were retired in recognition of his success on the diamond.

The Baseball Hall of Fame inducted Aaron on August 1, 1982 and the Hank Aaron Award was established in his honor.

“I never want them to forget Babe Ruth,” Aaron said at his Hall of Fame induction speech in 1982. “I just want them to remember Henry Aaron.”

GCAPP EmPOWER Party & 25th Anniversary Virtual Event
In this screengrab, Hank Aaron speaks during the GCAPP EmPOWER Party

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In 2002, 29 years after he broke the home run record, another honor came when President George W. Bush awarded him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron was born in Mobile, Alabama in 1934 to Herbert and Estella Aaron. He began his professional career in the Negro Leagues in 1951 and debuted in Major League Baseball at the age of 23. He endured racist taunts and death threats but went on to cement his place in history.

Aaron was recently in the news as part of an effort to show the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine. TheGrio reported on Jan. 8 that the baseball legend wanted to emphasize to the Black community the importance of the vaccine despite their qualms.

“I don’t have any qualms about it at all, you know. I feel quite proud of myself for doing something like this. … It’s just a small thing that can help zillions of people in this country,” he said at the time.

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