The sports world was shocked to hear that all-time great and Hall of Famer Hank Aaron passed away on Friday morning at the age of 86. Now, the Atlanta Falcons will retire the number 44 for the rest of the 2021 season to honor Aaron, as he will be remembered as a legend not only in the city that he played for but also all across the world.
Cornerback Tyler Hall will switch his number at the beginning of the upcoming season.
Falcons President and CEO Rich McKay paid tribute to Aaron after announcing the decision, detailing the impact he had on the city (per Josh Alper of NBC Sports).
“But he was more than an icon in sports, he was an icon off the field as well in how he carried himself and treated others. Because of that we are honored to celebrate his awe-inspiring life by retiring number 44 this season for our Atlanta Falcons. He was a true icon and yet when you encountered him, he always made you feel special. He was a great ambassador for the game of baseball, a great ambassador of the City of Atlanta and quite simply a great person,” McKay shared.
Aaron will always be remembered for his outstanding talent and the records he shattered, as he broke the all-time home run record held by Babe Ruth at that time (later broken by Barry Bonds). For what it's worth, he continues to hold the record for most career RBI's and total bases.
However, he will be most remembered for doing all of that while dealing with racial segregation and the racial barriers he broke while playing the game of baseball.
Hank Aaron was one of the greatest baseball players to every play the game, and it's not only the Atlanta Braves and Falcons that will remember him. After all, he was a leader who stood against racial injustice and helped pave a path for all people, regardless of skin color, to play the game they love.