Why was "Hammerin' Hank" so great?
Hank Aaron was born in Mobile, Alabama. He was one of eight children in a home with no indoor plumbing. His family couldn't afford baseball equipment so he created his own bats and balls out of things he found on the street. His high school did not have a baseball team so he played football and then went on to play for the Mobile Black Bears, a semi-pro team who paid him $3 a game. (the equivalent of $100 today) He could have been a SF Giant with the great Willie Mays, but the Braves offered Hank Aaron $50 a month more, so he chose them, and the rest is history.
During his stellar career, Hank Aaron received death threats, hate mail and taunting jeers. This quiet, principled athlete kept on going and broke record after record after record with grit and determination and extraordinary athletic talent.
When Hank retired in 1976. He went on to work for the Braves, own a chain of 30 restaurants and a car dealership and win the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his philanthropy as well as the Thurgood Marshall Lifetime Achievement Award from the NAACP. He founded the Chasing The Dream Foundation to help underprivileged kids with mentoring and financial support, he gave money to Black Colleges and Universities, supported Boys and Girls Clubs and so much more to change countless young lives.
Why was Hank Aaron so great? Because he was a good man under the most difficult social and financial situations, he rose above that, and gave back.
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