A legend in the sporting world and an icon of the civil rights movement is gone.
As Fox News reported, Major League Baseball great Hank Aaron died on Friday at the age of 86.
A final act of encouragement
The sad news was confirmed by his daughter, though the cause was not immediately disclosed. In one of his final public acts, he encouraged Americans — especially in the Black community — to get a COVID-19 vaccine, which he received on Jan. 5.
Afterward, he declared: “I feel wonderful. It makes you feel like you are doing something not only to help yourself but to help your community.”
Aaron grew up in an impoverished home in Alabama to become one of the first Black superstars in the newly integrated MLB during the 1950s.
After a brief sting in 1951 playing in the Negro leagues, he signed with the Braves and went on to make baseball history.
By the time his career was over, Aaron had 25 All-Star appearances, a Most Valuable Player award, and three Gold Gloves to his credit. He also finished with 755 home runs, which bested the prior record-holder, Babe Ruth, and stood for decades until it was surpassed by Barry Bonds.
“That’s the day I’m going to say ‘Hallelujah'”
Based on a combination of power and hitting ability, Aaron earned the nickname “Hammerin’ Hank.” He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. Following his baseball career, he continued a string of accomplishments including as an author, a business owner, and an executive in the Braves’ front office.
Although he was heralded for his efforts to aid the Black community, he has made it a point to transcend racial and ethnic boundaries.
“My hope is one day people will judge me by character rather than by the context of my color,” he said of his legacy. “And I think when that day comes, that’s the day I’m going to say ‘Hallelujah.'”
There is little doubt that Aaron achieved that goal in the eyes of millions of fans from all walks of life.
Aaron often used his platform to encourage others, stating: “God put you here for a reason. And the reason He put you here is not for you to stand still. He put you here to make you understand that … you’ve got to do all you can to try and make things better for other people.”