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Barry Bonds pays his respects to the late Hank Aaron

Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron

Former MLB great Barry Bonds paid homage to Hank Aaron after “Hammerin’ Hank” died Friday at the age of 86.

Bonds said he had the “deepest respect and admiration” for Aaron’s work both on and off the field, calling him a “trailblazer.”

Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds will forever be linked by the all-time home run record.

Bonds passed Aaron as MLB’s all-time leader when he hit home run No. 756 on Aug. 7, 2007. The record that once defined Aaron’s career as a baseball pioneer has come under scrutiny because of Bonds’ alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs.

But while Aaron often spoke on the complications regarding Bonds and other alleged PED users, he was adamant in stating the record still belongs to Bonds:

“I played the game long enough to know, and it is impossible for players — I don’t care who they are — to hit 70 home runs,” Aaron said in 2009, via ESPN. “It just does not happen. I think that’s one reason why people’s eyes started opening up and they said, ‘How can this guy do this?’

“It’s hard to say the reason you hit a home run is because you’re on steroids. I don’t believe that. I believe your body can recuperate quickly to come back on the field. But I certainly don’t think you can stand up there and hit a Nolan Ryan 100 mph fastball just because you put something in your arm or took a pill.”

However, as Bonds noted in his own post, Aaron was far more than a home run king.

The Braves legend was someone who stood tall in the face of racism as he chased down Babe Ruth. He defined excellence for more than two decades, always carrying himself with the utmost grace and class.

Bonds understands just how meaningful it was for the likes of Aaron to lay the foundation. He joins the baseball world in mourning Aaron’s passing.