Legendary Baseball Hall of Famer and American sports icon Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron died on Jan. 22, 2021. He was 86 years old. “It is with great sadness we share the passing of our home run king, Hank Aaron, who passed away peacefully in his sleep,” the Atlanta Braves — Aaron’s former team — expressed in a statement, per CNN.
While no cause of death has been specified at this time, fans are reeling over the baseball legend’s passing. Aaron is widely considered one of the greatest baseball players of all time, simultaneously smashing records and fighting racial prejudices throughout his impressive decades-long career. He started out with the Milwaukee Braves and moved with the team to Atlanta, consistently delivering impressive specs. In 1974, per The Washington Post, Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s whopping record of 714 home-runs, before eventually retiring with 755 under his belt. Aaron’s home-run record would go on to stand for more than 30 years.
Aaron’s record is beyond impressive, but his achievements resonated far beyond the baseball diamond.
The loss of Hank Aaron is the loss of a legend
Though Hank Aaron was best known for his baseball prowess, he was also a champion for civil rights. Born in Mobile, Alabama, in 1934, Aaron had to fight his way through the immense racism that shrouded professional sports. Inspired by Jackie Robinson, Aaron fought through the obstacles to become a major league player. According to ESPN, Aaron and his family would consistently receive death threats, though he was known for his “quiet resolve and dignity in the face of the threats.” In many ways, the hate emboldened Aaron to keep striving in the face of adversity: “I had to break that record. I had to do it for Jackie (Robinson) and my people and myself,” he said in his autobiography, I Had a Hammer, via CNN.
With his 755 home-run record and a place in the baseball Hall of Fame, Hank Aaron’s legacy is overwhelmed with barrier-breaking accomplishments. Fans everywhere will remember Aaron for years to come — not only for his talent as a baseball player, but for his steadfast commitment to overcoming racial inequality as well.
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