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The Atlanta Braves plan to honor Hank Aaron during the upcoming season, with the first of those initiatives being a $1 million donation to establish the Henry Louis Aaron Fund, which will work to increase minority participation among players, managers, coaches and front-office personnel.

Hank Aaron Jersey

That was an issue Aaron took a keen interest in throughout his life. He often criticized the lack of Black managers and general managers in Major League Baseball. He fretted that fewer Black people were playing the game.

“We want to continue Hank’s amazing work in growing diversity within baseball now and in the years to come,” Braves chairman Terry McGuirk said in a statement. “I believe this seed money is just the beginning for this growing fund and I’m certain other companies and organizations who have worked with Hank over the years will join us and add to this call to action to develop talent and increase the diversity on the field and in the front offices across the league.”

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Aaron, the 86-year-old Hall of Famer and longtime Atlanta Braves right fielder, did not die from his first COVID-19 vaccine dose.

Major League Baseball legend and Atlanta entrepreneur Hank Aaron’s cause of death has been revealed.

The 86-year-old Hall of Famer and longtime Atlanta Braves right fielder died of natural causes, according to an investigator in the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office.

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Hank Aaron fans in Atlanta pay respects to the history-making Major League Baseball player and community member Saturday, the day after his death at age 86. Aaron played for the Atlanta Braves and was known as “The Home-Run King.” (Photo by Megan Varner/Getty Images)
Hank Aaron fans in Atlanta pay respects to the history-making Major League Baseball player and community member Saturday, the day after his death at age 86. Aaron played for the Atlanta Braves and was known as “The Home-Run King.” (Photo by Megan Varner/Getty Images)
Aaron died Friday in his sleep.

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“We are absolutely devastated by the passing of our beloved Hank,” Braves Chairman Terry McGuirk wrote earlier this week in a statement. “He was a beacon for our organization first as a player, then with player development, and always with our community efforts.”

Last week’s news of Aaron’s death sparked some controversy on social media because he got the first of two coronavirus vaccine doses on Jan. 4 and had encouraged other Black Americans to get vaccinated as well. The ongoing distrust in the vaccine in the Black community may have been further exacerbated by Aaron’s passing.

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“I don’t have any qualms about it at all, you know. I feel quite proud of myself for doing something like this,” Aaron said at the time, alongside a host of other respected Black seniors getting vaccinated at Morehouse School of Medicine. “It’s just a small thing that can help zillions of people in this country.”

As previously reported, Aaron’s death was confirmed by his daughter. The legendary player and businessman was lauded by celebrities and past presidents after his passing.

In 2002, President George W. Bush awarded him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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Born Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron in Mobile, Alabama in 1934 to Herbert and Estella Aaron, he began his professional career in the Negro Leagues in 1951 and debuted in Major League Baseball at the age of 23. He endured racist taunts and death threats but went on to cement his place in history.

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While many Blacks maintain an understandable distrust in vaccination, the COVID-19 virus has also disproportionately affected Black people both in higher death rates and financial devastation.

President Joe Biden has vowed to make vaccine administration equitable through mobile clinics, vaccination centers and community partnerships.

Aaron remembered in ceremony at Braves’ park
The Braves’ donation will be matched by $500,000 apiece from MLB and the players’ association.

“Henry Aaron was a Hall of Fame player, a front office executive, a mentor, a colleague and a friend. In each of these roles, he was a tireless advocate for better representation of people of color throughout our sport,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “As a philanthropist and businessman, this celebrated power hitter was most passionate about empowering others. We are proud to honor his legacy through this joint donation to the Henry Louis Aaron Fund, and commit ourselves to continue building toward greater diversity and representation in the game Hank loved dearly.”

Aaron, whose 755 career home runs long stood as baseball’s all-time best, died last week from natural causes at the age of 86, and a memorial service in his honor was held Tuesday at Truist Park in Atlanta.

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