Hank Aaron, the groundbreaking MLB star who set the home run record in
1974, has died at age 86. Aaron's family reported the news to WSB-TV in Atlanta, where the icon lived and starred for the Braves at the height of his career.
Aaron has been hailed as one of the greatest all-around players in baseball history and he was one of the last baseball stars who began in the Negro leagues. Aaron surpassed Yankees legend Babe Ruth to break the home run record as death threats loomed around his accomplishment.
He would eventually finish his career with 755 home runs, a mark that was ultimately passed by Barry Bonds.
The legend played all but two of his 23 seasons with the Braves, first in Milwaukee and then in Atlanta. Upon his retirement, he became one of the most revered ambassadors of the game.
“I don’t think too many people got a chance to know me through the years, and that was something that was my own doing, because I’m actually kind of a loner, a guy that has stayed to himself,” Aaron told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2006. “A lot of people thought they knew me, but they really didn’t.”
Rap superstar MC Hammer famously got his "Hammer" nickname as a ballboy for the Oakland A's in his youth, when players noted he bore a resemblence to "Hammerin' Hank Aaron."
"That gentle,warm, joyful smile and his heartfelt embrace of a little kid from East Oakland in a moment empowered and changed my life," MC Hammer posted on Instagram. "Hank 'The Hammer' Aaron smiled upon me. The love shown is forever appreciated."
Upon news of his passing, notables like Chuck D and Questlove paid homage to the baseball icon.