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‘God is my strength’: The faith of Hank Aaron

Although the accolades continue for slugger Hank Aaron, who died Jan. 22, few mention his strong faith. Aaron reflected on his career years later, sharing how his faith carried him through the valleys and mountaintops of a tumultuous time in American history.

“I need to depend on someone who is bigger, stronger and wiser than I am,” he said. “I don’t do it on my own. God is my strength. He gave me a good body and some talent and the freedom to develop it. He helps me when things go wrong. He forgives me when I fall on my face. He lights the way.”

When one reporter asked Aaron how he was able to remain so calm despite all that was going on around him, he said: “When I was in the ballpark, I felt there was nothing that could bother me. I felt safe. I felt like I was surrounded by angels and I had God’s hand on my shoulder. I didn’t feel like anything could bother me.”

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As Aaron became more famous, those around him say he stayed true to his beliefs and his faith..

“The Lord willing, I’ll set a new home-run record,” he wrote for Guideposts in 1973. “If I don’t, that’s okay too. I’ve had a wonderful time in baseball and have enough great memories to last two lifetimes. I have been blessed.”

In 2001 that appeared on the Hardball Podcast with Chris Dimino. Aaron shared how his mind was on prayer the evening he hit the record-setting home run.
“The first thing I did was, of course, got on my knees and prayed. That’s No. 1,” he shared. “I did that. And then I had friends over at the house.”

Atlanta Braves chairman Terry McGuirk said in a statement the team was “absolutely devastated” to learn of Aaron’s death, describing the athlete as “a beacon for our organization first as a player, then with player development and always with our community efforts.

“His incredible talent and resolve helped him achieve the highest accomplishments, yet he never lost his humble nature. Henry Louis Aaron wasn’t just our icon, but one across Major League Baseball and around the world. His success on the diamond was matched only by his business accomplishments off the field and capped by his extraordinary philanthropic efforts.”

Aaron also was deeply patriotic and steadfastly optimistic about America. “I’m very proud to be an American,” he once said. “This country has so much potential. I’d just like to see things better, and I think it will be.”

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice