J.J. Watt may not have been born in Texas, but he's dedicated himself to the state in a way that would put any hometown hero to shame.
The Houston Texans star announced Monday that he has distributed the $41.6 million he raised through his foundation to help rebuild the Texas Gulf Coast after Hurricane Harvey, the Houston Chronicle reported.
"We're still working our way through it, but we're finding our way through it together as one, and I'm very fortunate to have the city of Houston behind me. I'll always love this city like it's my own because they've been so incredible to me," Watt told the Chronicle Monday after practice at the Texans' indoor practice facility.
With his fundraiser, the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year helped repair, clean up and rebuild 600 homes, build 420 childcare centers with the reach to serve 16,000 children, distribute 26 million meals, provide mental health services to more than 6,500 people affected, and distribute medicine to more than 10,000 patients, he said in a Monday tweet.
The 2017 Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year has been celebrated in the Lone Star State for his sportsmanship as well as his humanitarianism long before the costliest tropical cyclone on record made landfall in August 2017. But the Wisconsin native has now cemented his status of honorary Texan."JJ, you are a true hero, using your fame to do good in this world. Oh, and then there is football. Wishing you great health. The game is way better with you in it," one Twitter user wrote in response to Watt's update.
Watt decided he needed to do something to help mitigate the effects of the storm as he watched the devastation unfold on television after evacuating to a hotel room in Dallas. The Texans were unable to return to Houston as a result of the massive flooding and destruction caused by the storm, according to the Chronicle.
He initially established a modest goal of raising $200,000 through an online initiative to benefit victims of Hurricane Harvey. From there, it exploded.
"It's incredible to see just the generosity of strangers and what it's able to do and what it's able to accomplish, and the fact that that's just year one," Watt said, as quoted by Time.
Watt distributed the funds to eight nonprofit organizations through his charity.
Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on the Texas Coast, pouring more than 50 inches of rain in parts of the Houston area, killing more than 80 people and destroying thousands of homes. The devastation was extensive, and the recovery is far from over.
"We still have more to do and we still have a lot going on moving forward," Watt added.