Why Did Hank Aaron Die Now?
Hank Aaron was a great baseball player and a better person. He suffered many unfair attacks and threats, mostly because he was black, but remained a caring, ethical and compassionate man. He was a strong supporter of civil rights throughout his life and used his celebrity to support the cause.
Hank is known as one of the best baseball players ever and long-held one of the most cherished records for most homers in his career. Many people believe he remains the rightful owner of this record because his 755 home runs were eclipsed by someone who likely cheated with steroids to break Hank’s record.
Was Hank Aaron Cheated Out of a Full Life?
Hank Aaron died of natural causes when he was 86-years-old. A long life, longer than the average life expectancy, but could he have lived longer? Hank grew up in the Jim Crow era and had to deal with many blatant racists. When he was about to break Babe Ruth’s home run record, he was getting 3000 letters a day, and many included threats and disgusting attacks from the worst racists.
These unfair threats and attacks forced Hank Aaron to live with increased fear and stress. Women targeted by abusive men for domestic violence or sexual assault face the same consequence. This consequence is routinely faced in our racist society by blacks and other people of color. Based on the ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fear and stress are also the most significant risks for children exposed to domestic violence, child abuse, and other ACEs.
Living with constant stress is directly connected to shorter lives and a lifetime of health and social problems: another critical reason to prevent racism, sexism, and the mistreatment of children. Stress causes and exacerbates harmful diseases like cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, auto-immune diseases, and mental illness.
We will probably never know if the mistreatment Hank Aaron suffered at the hands of racists hastened his death. People exposed to constant fear and stress, even during parts of their lives, lose years from their lives, but we don’t know how it impacted a specific victim like Hank Aaron.
Hank Aaron transcends the world of sports. Today, tributes for Hank came from celebrities and unknown people from all walks of life. The praise naturally came from the world of baseball and all of the other sports and national leaders. As a society, we lost someone important for who we are and who we want to be.
The tributes and stories about Hank Aaron will talk about his life, his great success as a baseball player, and the honor and dignity with which he lived his life. I doubt that anyone else will be writing to ask if he could have lived longer, but maybe they should. His death is a severe loss for those who knew him and the even more incredible group of people who admire him.
Most people are unaware of the ACE Research. Precious children repeatedly lose their lives because judges are among the people unfamiliar with ACEs. Dr. Vincent Felitti, the lead author of the original ACE Study, said that prevention is the best use for his research. What would happen if most people knew and cared about the enormous harm caused when racism, sexism, and the mistreatment of children cause victims to live with the fear and stress these abominations cause?
Hank Aaron was rightly admired for his work to stop racism. If we understood the full harm sooner, he might still be with us.
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Domestic Violence Writer, Speaker, and Advocate
Barry Goldstein is one of the leading domestic violence authors, speakers, advocates, and a frequent expert witness.