Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt was named Sports Illustrated’s co-Sportsperson of the Year along with Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve on Monday.
The honor celebrates athletes for on-field and humanitarian achievements.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) December 5, 2017
“It’s much more than just two people,” Watt told “The Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon Monday. “It’s a whole city.”
Watt’s 2017 season was cut short by a leg injury but his contributions to storm-ravaged Houston will long be remembered. The three-time NFL defensive player of the year raised more than $37 million for the city to rise from its devastation.
Stranded in a Dallas hotel room in August by the storm, Watt started a relief fund on a YouCaring.com page. “I honestly didn’t know if we could reach $200,000,” he told Fallon.
The 5-foot-6 Altuve, the American League MVP, played a big role in galvanizing the city in the storm’s aftermath by helping the Astros win their first World Series title.
“The city of Houston has treated me really good,” he told Sports Illustrated. “I felt at that time that I owed them something. So when they were having a hard time, I wanted to give something back to them.”
The pair will officially accept the honor Tuesday night during an awards ceremony at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
During an interview with The Associated Press on Monday, Watt said he’s confident he’ll return for the 2018 season.
Watt began walking without the help of crutches last week, and he is looking forward to the next steps in his rehabilitation.
“It’s a long process,” he told the AP. “So it’s walking, it’s strengthening, then eventually it’s running and getting back to football. But we’re on track, and next season shouldn’t be a problem, I don’t believe. I have a very excited attitude, and we obviously have great rehab guys and trainers and stuff, so it’s going to be good.”