Aretha Franklin, the “Queen of Soul,” died Thursday of advanced pancreatic cancer at the age of 76 -- and the sports world took a turn paying tribute to the legendary singer.
The Detroit Lions were among the first organizations to release a statement on Franklin’s death.
“Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Aretha Franklin,” the Lions said. “Aretha was a groundbreaker and an icon whose legacy will live on forever.”
Fans began to reminisce about the times she dazzled spectators with her renditions of the national anthem.
The soul icon sang the “Star-Spangled Banner” before Game 1 of the 1993 World Series between the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies, and she thrilled with the song again in front of a packed house before Game 3 of the American League Championship Series between the Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers in 2011.
Franklin also received international acclaim for her memorable 2006 Thanksgiving Day performance before the Lions played the Minnesota Vikings. That rendition lasted nearly five minutes.
Other former and current athletes chimed in with their own condolences.
Franklin, who was born in Memphis and raised in Detroit, won 18 Grammy Awards, beginning with Best Rhythm and Blues Recording for "Respect" in 1968 and ending with Best Gospel-Soul Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group for "Never Gonna Break My Faith" with Mary J. Blige in 2008.
Franklin was married twice, to Ted White, who became her personal manager, and to actor Glynn Turman. She also had a seven-year relationship with her road manager, Ken Cunningham.
She was the mother of four sons: Clarence, Edward, Ted and Kecalf.