Baseball legend Hank Aaron died at the age of 86 on Jan. 22, according to family members.
“Hammerin’ Hank” famously broke Bane Ruth’s home run record in 1974 as a member of the Atlanta Braves. He played 23 seasons in the Major League from 1954 through 1976, including 21 of those with the Braves – before and after they relocated from Milwaukee to Atlanta in 1966.
The Mobile, Alabama native hit 755 career home runs, which stood as the MLB record for 33 years. He is one of only two players to hit 30 or more home runs in a season at least 15 times. In 1999, He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982.
After his retirement from baseball, Aaron continued to live in the Atlanta area becoming an executive for the Braves, owning car dealerships and working in television.
State and local officials released statements of condolence and tributes to the icon:
“We are absolutely devastated by the passing of our beloved Hank. He was a beacon for our organization first as a player, then with player development, and always with our community efforts. His incredible talent and resolve helped him achieve the highest accomplishments, yet he never lost his humble nature. Henry Louis Aaron wasn’t just our icon, but one across Major League Baseball and around the world. His success on the diamond was matched only by his business accomplishments off the field and capped by his extraordinary philanthropic efforts. We are heartbroken and thinking of his wife Billye and their children Gaile, Hank, Jr., Lary, Dorinda and Ceci and his grandchildren.” – Atlanta Braves Chairman Terry McGuirk
“Our family is heartbroken to hear the news of Hank Aaron’s passing. Hank Aaron was an American icon and one of Georgia’s greatest legends. His life and career made history, and his influence was felt not only in the world of sports, but far beyond – through his important work to advance civil rights and create a more equal, just society. We ask all Georgians to join us in praying for his fans, family, and loved ones as we remember Hammerin’ Hank’s incredible legacy.” – Gov. Brian Kemp
“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.” – Keisha Lance Bottoms, Mayor of Atlanta
“Today we learned of the passing of legendary athlete and human, Hank “The Hammer” Aaron. He was a global icon, esteemed for his record-setting career in baseball. However, the City of Atlanta has been honored to also know him as a faithful community member, entrepreneur, and family man. We will continue to remember his example of perseverance in the face of extreme opposition. May our prayers and condolences be with his wife, Mrs. Billye Aaron, and family.” – Felicia A. Moore, Atlanta City Council President
“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.” – Atlanta City Council