J.J. Watt, Jose Altuve Named 2017 SI Sportsperson of the Year Recipients

Scott PolacekFeatured ColumnistDecember 5, 2017

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 08: J.J. Watt #99 of the Houston Texans gets the crowd to make noise in the first quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs at NRG Stadium on October 8, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Tim Warner/Getty Images

The city of Houston will surely be behind Sports Illustrated's picks for the 2017 Sportsperson of the Year recipients.

On Monday, the magazine announced Houston Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt and Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve received the prestigious recognition. Both athletes helped the city recover from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey and were recognized by Sports Illustrated for their efforts.

Sports Illustrated's editors wrote a piece explaining the decision and stressed "off-field sacrifices and charity mattered as much as highlight reels and championship trophies."

Watt suffered a season-ending leg injury in Week 5 this season and wasn't able to significantly bolster a resume that already includes four Pro Bowls and three Defensive Player of the Year awards, but his work off the field led to this recognition.

The SI editors noted he raised more than $37 million in relief aid after the storm.

Watt provided a glimpse at the impact of the charity work on his Instagram page Friday when he visited one of the child care centers that were previously nearly destroyed by water. Watt said of the location, "They welcome over 220 kids every day into their child care center and they provide over 800 meals per day, not only to the children in the facility but also out in the community."

As for Altuve, the SI editors pointed to his role as the "joyous catalyst" on the first Astros team ever to win a World Series title. They explained the Astros' victory didn't have the direct impact that some of the financial contributions may have but still played a critical role in the city's recovery efforts:

"Championships don't save communities, and we should be careful to assign too much weight to their powers of healing. But what other event can bring a million-plus people together and provide a platform, however ephemeral, to cast aside the differences that drive so many of us to sports in the first place?"

It was both the escapism sports provide and the generosity of one of its biggest stars that inspired Sports Illustrated's selections this year.