Sports world pays tribute to Hank Aaron: Braves ‘absolutely devastated’

Reaction from around the sports world to the death Friday of Hank Aaron:

“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.” -- Braves Chairman Terry McGuirk

“Hank Aaron is near the top of everyone’s list of all-time great players. His monumental achievements as a player were surpassed only by his dignity and integrity as a person. Hank symbolized the very best of our game, and his all-around excellence provided Americans and fans across the world with an example to which to aspire. His career demonstrates that a person who goes to work with humility every day can hammer his way into history -- and find a way to shine like no other. Hank eagerly supported our efforts to celebrate the game’s best and to find its next generation of stars, including through the Hank Aaron Award, which recognizes offensive excellence by Major League players, and the Hank Aaron Invitational, which provides exposure to elite young players. He became a close friend to me in recent years as result of his annual visit to the World Series. That friendship is one of the greatest honors of my life. I am forever grateful for Hank’s impact on our sport and the society it represents, and he will always occupy a special place in the history of our game. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest condolences to Hank’s wife, Billye, their family, the fans of Atlanta and Milwaukee, and the millions of admirers earned by one of the pillars of our game.” -- MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred

“Hank Aaron’s incredible talent on the baseball field was only matched by his dignity and character, which shone brightly, not only here in Cooperstown, but with every step he took. His courage while pursuing the game’s all-time home run record served as an example for millions of people inside and outside of the sports world, who were also aspiring to achieve their greatest dreams. His generosity of spirit and legendary accomplishments will live in Cooperstown forever. On behalf of the Board of Directors and the entire staff of the Hall of Fame, we send our deepest sympathies to his wife, Billye, and his entire family.” -- Jane Forbes Clark, chairman of the Baseball Hall of Fame

“Rest in Peace to American hero, icon, and Hall of Famer Hank Aaron. I still remember where I was back in the day when he set the record, at that time, to become the home run all time leader. While a legendary athlete, Hank Aaron was also an extraordinary businessman and paved the way for other athletes like me to successfully transition into business. Hank Aaron is on the Mount Rushmore for the greatest baseball players of all time! Rest In Peace my friend. Cookie and I are praying for the entire Aaron family.” -- Basketball Hall of Famer Magic Johnson

“We are heartbroken and saddened by this morning’s passing of baseball legend, trailblazer and icon, Henry “Hank” Aaron. He not only made a great impact on the diamond, but in society as well with his caring and genuine spirit, always taking the time to be a friend to all. As an original member of the Falcons Board of Directors, he served as a mentor to so many of our players throughout the years, providing a source of knowledge and support on what it takes to build a winning culture while always displaying a great deal of humility. We loved Hank and his wife, Billye, and we are truly saddened by his passing. May he rest in peace.” -- Falcons owner Arthur Blank

“Nancy and I pass our condolences to all of Hank’s family today. So saddened to hear the news of Hank’s passing. There was a certain spirit, even a reverence, when in Hank Aaron’s presence that you could feel. Grace, strength, integrity. We were blessed to have known him.” -- Former Braves star Dale Murphy

“On behalf of the entire Georgia Tech athletics family, I extend my deepest condolences to Hank Aaron’s family and friends and the Atlanta Braves organization on his passing. My wife, Karen, and I were incredibly saddened to hear the news this morning. Some of my favorite stories that Karen has told me from her childhood are about how her father gave her a transistor radio when she was young so she could listen to ‘Hammerin’ Hank’ chase and eventually break Babe Ruth’s home run record while she was supposed to be sleeping in South Carolina. But his remarkable contributions to our hometown of Atlanta, our country and the world, in the face of unfathomable obstacles and resistance, transcend baseball. He will be greatly missed.” -- Georgia Tech Director of Athletics Todd Stansbury

“Atlanta and all of baseball lost an icon today. Hammerin’ Hank was a childhood hero for me and millions of other kids playing baseball. He was a role model who inspired players for decades with his talent, grace and humility.” -- Georgia Tech baseball coach Danny Hall

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