A look back at all the times JJ Watt showed up for the people of Houston

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Tuesday, December 27, 2022
JJ Watt no longer a Texan, but proud legacy in Houston cemented
The number of times the former Texans star showed up for Houston is incalculable. See almost every landmark moment in the video above.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- For more than a decade before he left for the Arizona Cardinals, J.J. Watt and the city of Houston were synonymous with each other. Watt's dominance as a football player can only be matched by his heart and the way he felt about the town he once called home.

The Wisconsin-born Watt's contributions to the city and surrounding areas are so incalculable, there would need to be an hour TV special to run it down.

From as big as raising millions for Hurricane Harvey relief, to as small as simply sending merchandise to Texans fans, as Watt announces his retirement from the NFL, we're looking back at the landmark moments when he made Houston feel proud.

READ MORE: 'My last ever NFL home game': Cardinals' JJ Watt announces this will be final NFL season

Leading donation relief efforts for a storm-battered city

As Houstonians were forced to flee flooded homes during the seemingly-endless drenching of Hurricane Harvey, in 2017, Watt used his role as the face of the city to urge people around the world to give generously for what was no doubt a long recovery.

Watt originally set a $100,000 goal for relief efforts, but the end amount was so much more than either he or folks in Houston could have imagined.

Watt eventually had $34 million to send to organizations that would spearhead things like housing recovery and immediate food support.

The NFL star garnered recognition for the efforts, winning the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award and being named Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year, which was an honor he shared with fellow Houston sports star and friend José Altuve.

Comforting survivors of the Santa Fe High School shooting

Watt's heart and sympathy know no limits, even when tragedy struck in the tight-knit community of Santa Fe, Texas.

In 2018, Watt visited the survivors of the Santa Fe High School shooting in the hospital.

J.J. Watt visits Santa Fe shooting survivors and nurses at hospital

While the visit by the star defensive end is always something one would document, the material support he pledged is at the forefront.

Not even a day after the tragedy, Watt said he would pay for the funerals of the eight students and two teachers who died.

Offering his time to fans

Between winning on-field honors and giving back to those in need off the field, Watt arguably became the example of how a sports star should live life.

Again, you could be in this page all day to run down every single thing he's done, but what stood out about Watt in Houston was the amount of time he gave to fans.

In 2019, for example, Watt sent a Cy-Fair ISD elementary school student an authentic jersey after the child went to class with a homemade one.

"I have a new friend named Brock," Watt said in a tweet that included a picture with the boy.

In the same year, Watt took time during training camp to toss the pigskin with Calder Hodge, a double amputee who has dreams of becoming an NFL quarterback.

SEE MORE: JJ Watt and young double amputee toss football at Texans camp

Calder Hodge, who wants to become the first double amputee to play QB in the NFL, tossed the pigskin with Texans star J.J. Watt.

Watt's support of the military is also well-documented. He's done everything from creating a colorway of his signature Reebok shoe in honor of his grandfather, a Korean War vet, to trading his cleats to a service member.

SEE IT: JJ Watt swaps gear with service member at Texans camp

During the first public Texans training camp session of 2019, JJ Watt made a memorable deal with a service member.

READ MORE: J.J. Watt releases new shoes in honor of the Navy SEALs

JJ Watt debuts new shoes

Basically, name a selfless thing, and No. 99 has probably done it.

Supporting racial equality

Over the last several years, sports leagues grappled with their role in the national conversation over racism. And Watt used his position to support an equal rights movement, especially in 2020.

Watt not only attended the funeral of George Floyd, the one-time Houstonian whose death sparked national protests over Black equality, he also made firm his view of kneeling during the national anthem.

In a response to a fan's tweet that stated Watt would likely not kneel, Watt responded, "If you still think it's about disrespecting the flag or our military, you clearly haven't been listening."

Of Floyd's death, Watt expressed being disturbed by the widely-circulated imagery.

"I don't understand how that situation can't be remedied in a way that doesn't end in his death. I think that it needs to be addressed. Strongly, obviously," he said.

J.J.'s "Watt"-a-burger plea

To close this look-back on a lighter note, Watt's affinity for Whataburger certainly not only won fans in Houston, but also across Texas.

On the heels of the Texas-born burger chain winding up in the hands of a Chicago investment group, Watt made this simple appeal to anyone who would listen.

SEE MORE: J.J. Watt rallies Texans to buy Whataburger back from Chicago bank

"I say we all chip in and buy Whataburger back," Watt tweeted.

He also had a bold proposal.

"Make honey butter chicken biscuits available all day, add kolaches on the menu and change nothing else. Especially not the ketchup," he added.