Since its inception in 1954, Sports Illustrated has awarded "Sportsperson of the Year" to an athlete who embodies sportsmanship on and off the field.
In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, two Houston athletes helped resuscitate the city's spirit in different ways. Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt's off-the-field humanitarian efforts raised more than $37 million in relief funds, while Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve's postseason performance helped give the city its first World Series championship.
Both were named the magazine's "Sportsperson of the Year" on Monday and will be honored at a ceremony Tuesday night at Barclays Center in New York.
Watt, a three-time NFL defensive player of the year who had his 2017 season end early due to a leg injury, started a relief fund on a YouCaring.com page while stranded in his Dallas hotel by the storm in August. A goal of $250,000 soon grew to a much larger sum.
“It’s much more than just two people,” Watt said of the award on “The Tonight Show” Monday. “It’s a whole city.”
The 5-foot-6 Altuve was named the American League MVP. His background as an overlooked athlete who defeated the odds made his contributions all the more powerful.