ATLANTA — Atlanta lost a legend Friday.
Beloved Braves hero and Major League record holder Hank Aaron died Friday at the age of 86, according to his daughter.
Condolences poured in for the “True Home Run King” after the news broke just before 10:30 a.m.
President Joe Biden issued a statement, saying:
“When I watched Henry Aaron play baseball, I knew I was watching someone special. It wasn’t just about watching a gifted athlete master his craft on the way to a Hall of Fame career as one of the greatest to ever play the game. It was that each time Henry Aaron rounded the bases, he wasn’t just chasing a record, he was helping us chase a better version of ourselves.
“With courage and dignity, he eclipsed the most hallowed record in sports while absorbing vengeance that would have broken most people. But he was unbreakable. He stemmed the vicious force of white supremacy, in death threats, hate mail, and in hardened hearts. What I deeply admired and respected about him is that each time he rounded those bases — an astonishing 755 trips home — he melted away more and more of the ice of bigotry to show that we can be better as a people and as a nation.
“Henry Aaron became, in the words of President Carter, “the first Black man for whom white fans in the South cheered.” It was not only his bat, but his character that won over those hearts and minds. For generations of athletes and civil rights advocates who followed, he showed how to be proud and be unafraid to stand up for what is right and just.
“Jill and I count ourselves among the many millions of Americans who are grateful for the memories he gave us and our families. As a nation, we will still chase the better version of ourselves that he set for us. As we do, we mourn his passing and send our prayers to his beloved Billye, their children and grandchildren, and the entire Aaron family.
“God bless, Henry “Hank” Aaron, an American hero.”
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued a statement, saying:
“Derek, our family and I join the nation in sending heartfelt condolences to Mrs. Billye Aaron, the beautiful wife of Henry “Hank” Aaron for nearly 50 years, and the entire family. This is a considerable loss for the entire city of Atlanta. While the world knew him as ‘Hammering Hank Aaron’ because of his incredible, record-setting baseball career, he was a cornerstone of our village, graciously and freely joining Mrs. Aaron in giving their presence and resources toward making our city a better place. As an adopted son of Atlanta, Mr. Aaron was part of the fabric that helped place Atlanta on the world stage. Our gratitude, thoughts and prayers are with the Aaron family.”
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp announced that flags will fly at half-staff starting Friday night until the day of Aaron’s funeral.
Former president Jimmy Carter, who is an avid Braves fan, released the following statement.
Rosalynn and I are saddened by the passing of our dear friend Henry Aaron. One of the greatest baseball players of all time, he has been a personal hero to us. A breaker of records and racial barriers, his remarkable legacy will continue to inspire countless athletes and admirers for generations to come. We send our love to Billye and their family and to Hank’s many fans throughout the world.
The Atlanta City Council released the following statement after the passing of baseball legend and Atlanta icon Hank Aaron:
“Hank Aaron will forever be remembered for his astonishing, record-breaking achievements on the baseball field, his civil rights activism, and his love and support for the community. We mourn his passing, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.
During his career, he earned recognition as one of the best players in the game, a feat made even more incredible and impressive knowing the racial animus, intimidation, and pressure that he received. His stellar play on the field earned him immortality in the hallowed halls of America’s pastime, and his support for the community, especially for education and social freedom and equality, reinforced his amazing impact in Atlanta and throughout the world.”
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