Today, the world mourns. Civil rights activist and baseball legend Hank Aaron has passed away at the age of 86 years old. For 30 years, Aaron was well known across the world as the all-time home run leader in Major League Baseball. However, he was so much more than 755 home runs. The Alabama native pushed the boundaries of what it meant to be an activist athlete. Raised in the Jim Crow south, Aaron endured racism, bigotry and unspeakable horrors en route to using his platform to work with the NAACP and pave the way for Black players to follow in his footsteps. At no point did Aaron cower in fear and duck from confrontation. Instead, he stood tall in the face of those who shouted racial slurs and unfathomable insults during all nine innings.
“These people feel this is going to be a weak part of me,” Aaron said.
“They think they’ll upset me with their words or their shouts, that they’ll get me where I can’t do the job. This won’t happen. I don’t like it, but I always do my best. This only makes me more determined.”
Aaron retired in 1976 after a 23-year playing career. As previously mentioned, he retired with the MLB all-time home run record. He also finished his career with a World Series title, three Gold Gloves, two batting titles and astounding 21 all-star selections. He is one of only 11 players in league history to have his jersey retired by more than one team.
Aaron leaves behind six children and his wife, Billye. He will truly be missed by Major League Baseball, America and fans around the world.
"[He was] much bigger than the giant of a home run king he was in baseball as he fought through extreme racism and death threats as a player and used his platform to fight for equality. Hank Aaron was a legend on and off the diamond," March Spears of ESPN stated.
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