Two athletes who helped and inspired the city of Houston after it was ravaged by Hurricane Harvey received the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year award on Tuesday.
J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans and Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros earned the publication’s prestigious award for the different ways they contributed to their city’s recovery.
“Athletes who care is kind of the point of the award in the first place,” said Mark Mulvoy, former managing editor of Sports Illustrated.
In the weeks following Hurricane Harvey, Watt started a social media fundraising campaign that raised more than $37 million in relief aid.
Although Watt’s football season was cut short by a serious leg injury, his football performance had no bearing on his consideration for the award.
“Nothing J.J. Watt has achieved in his career, or might still achieve, will measure up to what he did for Houston,” said Peter King, Editor-in-Chief of MMQB.
Altuve’s contribution to the city was on the field of play. He led the Astros to the franchise’s first-ever World Series championship, giving Houston a distraction from the devastation, something to rally around and enjoy together.
“The city of Houston has treated me really good,” Altuve said to 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.”
Other athletes considered for the award included former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and WNBA star Maya Moore, both notable for being the face of social justice protests in their respective sports.