Hank Aaron died at the age of 86 on Friday morning, and the entire country is paying tribute to the baseball icon. One of the most notable figures to react to the news is Barack Obama, who called Aaron "one of the strongest people I've ever met." The former president released a statement on Aaron and explained why he meant so much to him and so many other people.
"Hank Aaron was one of the best baseball players we've ever seen and one of the strongest people I've ever met," Obama said. "A child of the Jim Crow South, Hank quit high school to join the Negro League, playing shortstop for $200 a month before earning a spot in Major League Baseball. Humble and hardworking, Hank was often overlooked until he started chasing Babe Ruth's home run record, at which point he began receiving death threats and racists letters-letters he would reread decades later to remind himself 'not to be surprised or hurt.'"
Along with breaking Ruth's home run record, Aaron went on to be one of the first Black Americans to hold a senior management position in baseball. Obama mentioned how he and his wife Billye got their COVID-19 vaccine.
"Today, Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to the Aaron family and everyone who was inspired by this assuming man and his towering example," Obama stated. Aaron played for the Braves from 1954-1974. Along with hitting 755 home runs, Aaron is the MLB's all-time leader in RBIs (2,297) and extra-base hits (1,477). Aaron also finished his career with 3,771 hits. Only Pete Rose and Ty Cobb have more hits than Aaron. He was also selected to play in the All-Star game 25 times, the most in baseball history. He's a member of the Braves Hall of Fame, the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.
"We are absolutely devastated by the passing of our beloved Hank, "Braves chairman Terry McGuirk said in a statement. 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."