David Ortiz, Russell Wilson and More Sports Figures Salute 'Heroic' Hank Aaron

The world of American sports lost a legend on Friday, with the death of MLB icon Hank Aaron. The baseball hall-of-famer died at the age of 86 on Friday, according to his daughter. There was no immediate cause of death revealed.

Renowned for his incredible batting skills—Aaron ranks second all-time in MLB history for career home runs, with a total of 755—the man known as "Hammerin' Hank" was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. Though he retired in 1976, Aaron has remained one of the game's most idolized players for his life on and off the field.

The 25-time MLB All-Star was on the mind of sports fans everywhere on Friday, and many took to Twitter to express their grief and condolences over his death. Sports journalists and players alike were quick to share tributes explaining how Aaron affected their lives.

Hank Aaron
Baseball icon Henry "Hank" Aaron looks on at Clark Sports Center during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on July 29, 2018, in Cooperstown, New York. Jim McIsaac/Getty Images/Getty

The grace, dignity, class and courage with which Hank Aaron pursued the alltime home run record was truly amazing. That record, rightfully, should still be his. RIP.

— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 22, 2021

Henry “Hank” Aaron passed away at 86. 💔

This hits hard. Great man. Strong man. Gentleman.

More than home run king.

He was so kind and so insightful.

Big @Browns fan. Told me a story more than 30 years ago about sitting in Dawg Pound with his mask

I loved him. #RIPHankAaron

— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) January 22, 2021

Hank Aaron was my childhood hero for what he did on baseball fields. Hank Aaron remains my hero for what he did with his life. https://t.co/m135J7C4Qb

— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) January 22, 2021

Hank Aaron's legacy transcends his place as one of the greatest in the history of our national pastime. He represents the best of America, with his resiliency, grace, and relentless optimism. An extraordinary life. He is royalty. Always will be. RIP. @MLBNetwork @baseballhall

— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) January 22, 2021

RIP to the great Hank Aaron. Prayers going up for his family. 🙏🏽

— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) January 22, 2021

A legend on and off the ball field... the best to ever do it... RIP Mr Hank Aaron 🙏🏿 #44 pic.twitter.com/3LH6iB9auV

— David Ortiz (@davidortiz) January 22, 2021

Current New York Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman shared a photo of Aaron on Twitter with a sweet note: "RIP Henry Louis "Hank" Aaron! Sad sad day. Thankful for your heroism!"

RIP Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron! Sad sad day. Thankful for your heroism! 🖤 pic.twitter.com/oyfWfr0M80

— Marcus Stroman (@STR0) January 22, 2021

Wrestler the Iron Sheik spoke up in all caps. "HANK AARON IT BREAK MY HEART TO SAY GOODBYE. YOU WERE THE HOME RUN KING ON THE FIELD AND GENTLEMAN KING OFF THE FIELD," his tweet reads. "MANY GOOD TIMES WHEN WE SEE YOU IN THE ATLANTA THANK YOU FOR THE MEMORIES BUBBA."

HANK AARON IT BREAK MY HEART TO SAY GOODBYE. YOU WERE THE HOME RUN KING ON THE FIELD AND GENTLEMAN KING OFF THE FIELD. MANY GOOD TIMES WHEN WE SEE YOU IN THE ATLANTA THANK YOU FOR THE MEMORIES BUBBA

— The Iron Sheik (@the_ironsheik) January 22, 2021

People outside of the sports world paid their respects as well. Westworld star Jeffrey Wright chimed in, tweeting, "Younger generations may not appreciate what Hank Aaron and that moment 47 years ago meant - a massive cultural statement made against much resistance but with the whole of America watching. I can never forget. RIP."

Wow.

Younger generations may not appreciate what Hank Aaron and that moment 47 years ago meant - a massive cultural statement made against much resistance but with the whole of America watching. I can never forget. RIP. https://t.co/2EX9Jz84t9 pic.twitter.com/s93TM2jlOs

— Jeffrey Wright (@jfreewright) January 22, 2021

While Aaron was widely respected and praised for his incredible baseball talents, his legacy also extends off the field. As a Black man in baseball, Aaron was on the receiving end of all kinds of hateful, racist remarks and death threats.

Before we salute Hank Aaron, Remember:

Last month, @MLB finally added Negro League records to its official stats, meaning Aaron hit 760 home runs, more RBIs, total bases, & All-Star games than anyone who ever played baseball.

Also, Babe Ruth didn't play against Black players.

— Michael Harriot (@michaelharriot) January 22, 2021

NFL star Russel Wilson thanked Aaron for his influence outside of the game. "Hank... my dad and Grandfather raved about you. Thanks for changing the game of baseball... but more importantly thanks for bringing America together through love in a time of such great hate."

Hank... my dad and Grandfather raved about you. Thanks for changing the game of baseball... but more importantly thanks for bringing America together through love in a time of such great hate.

Heaven is a good place. #RIPHankAaron pic.twitter.com/D2m7fa4CXs

— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) January 22, 2021

When he retired from baseball as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers, Aaron requested that a charity fund be started in his name to benefit young people in the Wisconsin city. Now known as the Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream Fund, the initiative aims to help low-income children finance and develop talents and extracurricular activities. The organization also offers financial management skills, as each child scholarship recipient is paired with a mentoring adult who will help them budget their award.