HOUSTON – J.J. Watt can’t help himself. He sees a need, then finds a way to fill it.
A year ago, the Texans all-everything defensive end and 2018 Walter Payton Man of the Year raised $41.6 million for Hurricane Harvey relief in Houston. And this year? He spent much of the last 12 months spreading those funds around the city, then he wrapped his arms around the victims of the Santa Fe shooting, quietly paying for the funerals of the 10 students and teachers who lost their lives on that horrific day in May.
His generosity, compassion and impact on the city earned him his second consecutive Sportsmanship Award, while Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta, whose philanthropy, vision and commitment to the city and all sports, was named Executive of the Year. The Executive of the Year Award is presented by Mercedes-Benz Dealers of Greater Houston.
Fertitta had a magic touch in his first season as the Rockets owner as the team set a record for the most wins in the regular season, going 65-17 and advancing to the Western Conference Finals where they pushed the eventual NBA champion Golden State Warriors to a Game 7. In addition, Fertitta’s $20 million gift to the University of Houston – the single largest individual donation in UH history – helped transform Hofheinz Pavilion, now Fertitta Center, into a modern 7,100-seat arena. As Chairman of the UH System Board of Regents, his vision has modernized all UH sports facilities.
Watt and Fertitta join Lifetime Achievement Award winners, the late President George H.W. and Barbara Bush, as the 2019 Legacy Award winners.
The nominees for six other awards which will be given out on February 6 at the Hilton Americas have also been selected.
Athlete of the Year Simone Biles Alex Bregman James Harden DeAndre Hopkins
College Athlete of the Year Rob Gray – University of Houston D’Eriq King – University of Houston Ed Oliver – University of Houston Trayveon Williams – Texas A&M
High School Athlete of the Year presented by Memorial Hermann Health Systems Kaitlyn Banas – Cy Ranch High School Kesean Carter – The Woodlands High School Grant Gunnell – St. Pius X High School Cate Reese – Cy Woods High School
Coach of the Year Mike D’Antoni – Houston Rockets A.J. Hinch – Houston Astros Bill O’Brien – Houston Texans Kelvin Sampson – University of Houston basketball
Event of the Year Opening of Fertitta Center Houston Texans Monday Night Football win over Tennessee/McNair Celebration NBA Western Conference Finals Rodeo Houston
Moment of the Year
Simone Biles winning World Championship DeAndre Hopkins Spin Catch against Dallas to set up winning field goal Houston Dynamo Winning Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Santa Fe High School first football game
The second annual Houston Sports Awards will celebrate a Lifetime of Houston Sports – one decade at a time – and the night will honor Jack Burke, Jr., A.J. Foyt, George Foreman and Dan Pastorini as its second Hall of Fame Class. They represent four of the eight decades with the 40th anniversary of Pastorini and the Luv Ya Blue Oilers, the 50th anniversary of Foreman winning gold at the 1968 Summer Olympics, the 60th anniversary of Foyt’s Indianapolis 500 debut and the 70th anniversary of Burke’s first professional win.
The Legacy winners are chosen by the Sports Awards Executive Committee with input from the Selection Committee. The committees are comprised of sportswriters and electronic sports media members who live and work in the Greater Houston area.