Iconic Soul legend Aretha Franklin has passed away, but her talent and legacy has reached countless people throughout the world. Throughout her career, she was part of—as well as created—many iconic sports moments.
The Queen of Soul developed a friendship with baseball great Willie Mays after meeting back in the 1950s.
“I’ve known Aretha since my early years in New York, we used to joke around,” Mays said in a statement. “I just want to say to her family that I truly admired her as a singer and as a woman.”
Franklin also developed a friendship with the legendary Muhammad Ali, supporting his boxing career and teaming up with him during philanthropy events. She was also featured in his show “Muhammad Ali Variety Special” in 1975.
Golf was a sport that Franklin took a fondness for, she would hit balls at the driving range to destress and to exercise. In 1997, she mentioned to a reporter how she wanted to “walk 18 holes with Tiger Woods.”
Singing national anthems would give every fan a new reason to be patriotic. Franklin was booked for several history making games. Her most iconic portrayal of the national anthem was during a Thanksgiving Day game where the Detroit Lions hosted the Minnesota Vikings.
She played on a grand piano and was accompanied with an organist, giving her rendition the essence of a hymn played during a church service, much to the excitement of the crowd and players on both teams.
In 2002 Franklin sang “America the Beautiful” at the beginning of the U.S. Open Finals for Women’s Singles, Venus Williams was to face off against Serena in the matchup. Two years later, Franklin represented her hometown Detroit when she sang the Star-Spangled Banner for Game Three of the NBA Finals when the Pistons battled against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Franklin voice also reached the world of baseball. In the 1990’s, she created a special rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” for a promotional video for Major League Baseball featuring the Detroit Lions. The Queen of Soul also sang the National Anthem for Game One of the 1993 World Series when the Philadelphia Phillies battled the Toronto Blue Jays and when the Detroit Tigers battled the Texas Rangers.
Aretha Franklin had a remarkable career; the sports world was deeply impacted by the Queen of Soul and she will be missed.