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Hank “The Hammer ” Aaron Black MLB Player Passes Away at 83

Written by on January 26, 2021

Hank Aaron‘s cause of death has been revealed days after he died.

The baseball legend and Hall of Famer died of natural causes, an investigator with the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office tells PEOPLE on Monday.

Aaron died on Friday at the age of 83.

A statement from the Atlanta Braves previously said that Aaron “passed away peacefully in his sleep.

“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,” Braves Chairman Terry McGuirk wrote in the statement.

“His incredible talent and resolve helped him achieve the highest accomplishments, yet he never lost his nimble nature. Henry Louis Aaron wasn’t just our icon, but one across Major League Baseball and around the world,” he added. “His success on the diamond was matched only by his business accomplishments of the field and capped by his extraordinary philanthropic efforts.”

Hank Aaron
Hank Aaron Getty

RELATED: Hank Aaron Used Record-Setting Hate Mail for Inspiration Before Breaking Babe Ruth Record

Aaron was recently seen in public getting the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, and encouraged Black Americans to do the same. (Before being released to the public, vaccine-makers went through large, lengthy clinical trials to ensure that their product is completely safe. On Sept. 8, nine of the leading vaccine makers — including Pfizer and Moderna — signed a pledge vowing to follow “high ethical standards” and not rush a vaccine into production before it is proven to work.)

“I don’t have any qualms about it at all, you know. I feel quite proud of myself for doing something like this,” he told the Associated Press at the time. “It’s just a small thing that can help zillions of people in this country.”

I was proud to get the COVID-19 vaccine earlier today at Morehouse School of Medicine,” he added on social media. “I hope you do the same!”

Since his death, figureheads such as Barack ObamaGeorge W. Bush and Bill Clinton have taken to social media to celebrate Aaron’s legacy.

“Hank Aaron was one of the best baseball players we’ve ever seen and one of the strongest people I’ve ever met,” Obama, 59, wrote in a statement last week. “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 racist letters—letters he would reread decades later to remind himself ‘not to be surprised or hurt.’ ”

“Those letters changed Hank, but they didn’t stop him. After breaking the home run record, he became one of the first Black Americans to hold a senior management position in Major League Baseball. And for the rest of his life, he never missed an opportunity to lead—including earlier this month, when Hank and Billye joined civil rights leaders and got COVID vaccines,” Obama continued.

In his own statement, Bush, 74, wrote, “Laura and I are saddened by the passing of Hank Aaron. The former Home Run King wasn’t handed his throne. He grew up poor and faced racism as he worked to become one of the greatest baseball players of all time.”

“Hank never let the hatred he faced consume him. Henry Louis Aaron was a joyful man, a loving husband to Billye, and a proud father of six children who will deeply miss him,” he continued. “Laura and I send them our condolences and our thanks for sharing this great man with our country.”

hank aaron
Hank Aaron Kevin C. Cox/Getty

Clinton, 74, wrote in a statement, “With the passing of Hank Aaron, baseball has lost one of its greatest heroes, America has lost an inspiring role model and philanthropist, and I have lost a wonderful friend.”

“Hillary and I send our thoughts and prayers to Billye, their family, and the countless people whose lives he touched—by his bat, his caring gifts, and his friendship. Hank Aaron’s entire life was a home run,” Clinton added.

During his baseball career, Aaron earned nearly every title in the book — including the National League MVP in 1957, one-time world champion, two-time National League batting champion, three-time Golden Glove winner, four-time RBI champion and four-time home run champion.

His record of representing the Braves at the All-Star games 25 times remains untouched to this day.


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