Unfortunately, for JJ Watt and the Houston Texans, this will be a season they would both like to forget, as Watt suffered a gruesome, season-ending injury just 5 weeks into the season. And though they may forget that his on-field accomplishments weren’t much, the city of Houston will never forget his off-the-field triumphs in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. (Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve was named co-Sportsman of the Year for helping bring a World Series trophy to the storm-sick town).
Less than a month after Harvey ravaged the Houston area, Watt had raised more than $37 million in aid and his mom was on the ground helping coordinate donation efforts (he was too when he wasn’t practicing or traveling before he got hurt).
Watt and Altuve will grace the cover of Sports Illustrated together, but Watt got some time in the chair with Jimmy Fallon and “The Tonight Show” to talk about the honor.
“It’s Sportsperson of the Year, but it’s much more than two people… on my side, it’s 200,000 who donated money to help rebuild the city. It’s an award that’s so much bigger than sports. I can’t thank Sports Illustrated and all the people out there that helped enough,” Watt told Fallon.
Watt also said he’s been out visiting the sites that were hit the hardest and, “it’s devastating, but it’s so incredible to see the positive spirit these people have kept during such a difficult time.”
Recently, on Instagram Watt shared what it was like to get to visit those he’s been helping for the first time, “Today was the first time since my injury that I had a chance to go out and see first-hand some of the work that is being done with the money that everyone so generously donated to the Harvey Relief Fund. I went and saw a few of the homes that are being rebuilt by SBP after being completely gutted from floor to ceiling (and even the roof). The people and their stories were both heartbreaking and uplifting all at the same time. From Mr. and Mrs. Leonard who have lived in their home for 40 years and had to be rescued by boat (twice!) after the flooding kept climbing higher and higher in their home, to Isela and her family who lost everything but have kept an incredible smile on their face and such an energetic spirit, to Miss Anne who is still in the process of getting her home from the mold damage but hasn’t let that stop her from loving and caring so deeply for those around her and her beloved pets (including a 19 year old chihuahua named Chi Chi and two cats, Andy and Mittens!). Each of these families went through so much devastation and heartbreak, yet remain so positive and energetic, it was truly inspiring to spend time with them today. The work that SBP is doing in rebuilding these houses and helping to get people back in their homes is incredible and thanks to your donations they will be building hundreds of homes over the next two years, each with a story like those great folks and each eager to get back into the comfort and safety of their own home. I also had a chance to visit the Houston Food Bank today, which services over 600 agencies in 18 counties in and around Houston, including mobile pantries that help reach numerous communities. Last year the Houston Food Bank provided over 83 Million meals and they estimated that in the wake of Harvey, their production tripled and it currently remains at double the standard rate and will remain so well into next year. Through Feeding America, your donations have helped to provide countless meals, not only in Houston but all throughout the gulf coast and other affected areas, as well as additional mobile pantries to get food out into the areas that need it. More updates from other sites to come soon!”