Watt and Altuve share the SI Sportsperson of the Year award


HOUSTON (AP) J.J. Watt raised more than $ 37 million for relief efforts from Hurricane Harvey and Jose Altuve took the Houston Astros to their first World Series title, both giving hope to the city when it picked up the pieces of the devastating storm.

On Monday night the two were honored by Sports Illustrated when they received the magazine's prestigious Sportsperson of the Year award. Sports Illustrated executive editor Steve Cannella said they chose the pair because Watt and Altuve perfectly embodied the Houston Strong slogan adopted by the city following Hurricane August and its catastrophic floods.

To celebrate the award, given annually since 1954 in honor of a player, coach or team that has best exhibited athletic achievements and sportsmanship on and off the field, players share the Sports Illustrated cover this month. Looking good in matching dark suits and white dress shirts, they are depicted smiling widely, with arms hanging over the shoulders of others and a headline stating "Houston Strong"

The article continues below … [19659005] "I grew up in Wisconsin and I remember when I was in school I saw Brett Favre as the SI Sportsman of the Year and I thought it was amazing," Watt told The Associated Press. "So now to be able to be in one myself and share it with José and have him represent the city of Houston and everything we've gone through, I think it obviously has some additional meaning."

Altuve, the Most Valuable Player in the American League, said the Astros felt the responsibility of taking the championship to Houston to give the city a boost as it recovered.

"I think the World Series gave people a big smile and hope during the difficult time they were coming," he said. "And I'm really happy that I did it because they really deserved it."

Watt, three times Defensive of the Year with the Houston Texans, became the face of Harvey's relief efforts with his fundraiser. He started the campaign in the days after the storm with the goal of raising $ 200,000. But the goal continued to rise as donations reached more than 200,000 people.

He diverted the credit for the large sum he raised, saying that true acclamation should go to those who promised money.

"It was amazing to see how people from all over the country, people from all over the world, people from different backgrounds, all different communities came together to support a city and a people that was having the most difficult time of their lives" said Watt. "I think that is the message that I got out of all this and I hope that people take from all this how when everyone has a common goal and everyone comes together and put all their differences aside, we can achieve truly incredible things."

Watt has had a couple of difficult years, playing just three games last season before undergoing a back operation that would end the season and fracture his left leg this year in the fifth game of Houston. In recent days he began to visit some of the people to whom his contributions have helped and given him some perspective of his setbacks.

"Having the opportunity … to be able to see some of the things that are happening and to be able to focus on some of these efforts, yes, it has been really great," he said. "And he does (help), he's going to show you that there's a lot beyond football, and I can not wait to get back on the field and be able to put on a show in the field, but in the meantime it's been great to be able to see everything that happens outside the field. countryside ".

It is impossible to quantify how many people the money raised by Watt will help. But he said they will rebuild more than 1,000 daycares and hundreds of homes, in addition to providing food donations and medical care.

"It is difficult to put exact numbers, but obviously there will be many, many people who will benefit from all the generous people who donated," he said.

The Astros put a Houston Strong patch on their shirts in the days after the storm and it remained a tangible reminder of what the city lost in the storm when they defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the title. Altuve said that he thought about that slogan and what it meant every time they approached his goal of taking that elusive championship to the city.

"When I see that I see the proof," he said. "I know for sure that our city is very strong because after the hurricane they tried to come back and tried to improve every day, and that's what strong people do, that's why I feel like the strong patch and the Houston Strong was a good name for the people of Houston. "

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