Barry Bonds, who surpassed Hank Aaron as the all-time home run leader in baseball history, said in a tribute message Friday that the MLB icon was a "true hero."
"I want to send my heartfelt and warmest condolences to the Aaron family on their loss today. I was lucky enough to spend time with Hank on several occasions during my career and have always had the deepest respect and admiration for all that he did both on and off the field. He is an icon, a legend and a true hero to so many, who will forever be missed," Bonds wrote on Instagram.
"Hank Aaron - thank you for everything you ever taught us, for being a trailblazer through adversity and setting an example for all of us African American ball players who came after you. Being able to grow up and have the idols and role models I did, help shape me for a future I could have never dreamed of. Hank’s passing will be felt by all of us who love the game and his impact will forever be cemented in my heart."
Aaron retired from baseball as the all-time home run leader with 755 dingers in his career.
Bonds would later break the record, finishing with 762. However, many believe there should be an asterisk next to Bonds’ mark due to his role in the steroid era of baseball which saw players with inflated offensive numbers.
When Bonds broke Aaron’s record, "Hammerin’ Hank" left a video message for the San Francisco Giants great.
"I would like to offer my congratulations to Barry Bonds on becoming baseball's career home run leader," Aaron said. "It is a great accomplishment which required skill, longevity and determination.
"Throughout the past century, the home run has held a special place in baseball and I have been privileged to hold this record for 33 of those years. I move over now and offer my best wishes to Barry and his family on this historic achievement.
"My hope today, as it was on that April evening in 1974, is that the achievement of this record will inspire others to chase their own dreams."
Aaron affirmed in February 2020 that he considered Bonds as the home-run king despite the prevalence of steroids.