Sports Illustrated has revealed their 2017 Sportsperson of the Year, and it is Houston Texans pass rusher J.J. Watt and Houston Astros world champion Jose Altuve.
“When devastation hit his city of Houston in late August, J.J. Watt set out to raise $200,000,” wrote Sports Illustrated’s Robert Klemko in his profile of the winner. “He ended up raising more than $37 million in Hurricane Harvey relief, via donations from both millionaires and 6-year-olds. And, after suffering an injury in the fifth game of the season, Watt has finally been able to realize that he’s much more than just an NFL player.”
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) December 5, 2017
What he’s done has been astounding and impressive, showing that he cares about way more than just football or personal stats or Defensive Players of the Year awards. He recognizes that the stage he’s been given allows him to do more than most could ever hope, and he used that to empower others and get them to help when it was desperately needed.
“During a time like that, you learn so much about how the world is bigger than just the bubble you live in,” Watt said. “We always see these events on TV — a storm in Puerto Rico or Hurricane Katrina — and you feel terrible. You want to help. But there’s an entirely new level of heightened awareness when it’s your city, when you actually see the houses. It’s real. That will change you forever. That’s what we experienced. It’s an angle I didn’t even really contemplate fully until now.”
Watt has been out for most of the season with a fractured left tibial plateau. In five games, he recorded 15 tackles, but no sacks.
“The top part of my leg basically got pulverized,” Watt said. “It was in a whole bunch of different pieces.”
This award shows that all those stats don’t matter as much as doing the right thing and helping those in need. By no means has 2017 been a wasted year for Watt, even if he’s barely been on the field.
Altuve led the Houston Astros to their first-ever World Series championship in the fall, just after the hurricane and all its devastation.