PEWAUKEE (WITI) — From delivering pizzas to delivering enough hard hits and sacks to become an NFL superstar! Hometown hero J.J. Watt is living his dream — but what’s most important to him is putting youngsters in a position to see their dreams come true.
“I’m literally just a big kid, and I think that’s what makes it so fun and so enjoyable. This is not like a job or anything like that. It’s just — I enjoy it,” Watt said.
Justin James Watt, an NFL superstar defensive end with the Houston Texans, and an ex-Wisconsin Badgers great from Pewaukee, Wisconsin was on center stage on Saturday, June 21st at Waukesha County Technical College — hosting the fourth annual “J.J. Watt Foundation 5K Run/Walk.”
Watt has helped to raise $1 million for kids after school programs in both Wisconsin and Houston.
“I understand the importance of kids having a proper environment to grow up in and having proper opportunities to have success. If we can get the messages across at a young age — like teamwork, discipline, work ethic — if we can get those across to kids at a young age, they can grow and build on those as they get older,” Watt said.
Watt’s love for kids of all ages comes from the love he received from two humble, hard-working parents.
25-year-old Watt credits John and Connie Watt as his shining stars. Their example won’t allow any amount of fame and fortune to cause Watt to become complacent and forget his roots.
“I have a dad who was a firefighter and a mom who worked her way up from being a secretary to vice president of a company. The instincts and the discipline and everything that they instilled in me is what made me who I am today. Just seeing them make sacrifices every single day so that my brothers and I could have a great life and so that we could have opportunities — and seeing them work their tails off every single day made me want to work my butt off every single day,” Watt said.
Watts words are gratifying to his mother. Connie Watt is even more proud of what her son does to make an impact off the field, than on.
“That’s really the most rewarding thing. I mean, so many people talk about his accomplishments on the field and whatnot, and sometimes I’m not even sure what those all exactly are with the stats, but I said touching people off the field and watching him with the kids and seeing that genuine, you know — he doesn’t do things for other purposes aside from this is what he wants to do. Touching all these kids’ lives — giving them more opportunities, and now I get to do that through him as well by managing his foundation, is just the greatest feeling,” Connie Watt said.
It’s a great feeling for T.J. Watt too. With his brother Derek, T.J. is the third Watt brother to play for the Wisconsin Badgers.
He says J.J.’s example inspires him.
“It’s amazing. I mean, more so in the community because I know what it’s like and how it’s supposed to be done — to get out in the community. I just did community service at the hospital the other day, just to get out and reach out to the community, but also on the field — just know your role and know how to work hard,” T.J. Watt said.
As popular as he is in Wisconsin, native son J.J. Watt knows that Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is a rock star in our state, but if you get the two-time Pro Bowler back in the Lone Star State, the level of popularity may be the same.
“It’s a different level down in Texas. It’s wild. It’s wild. I pretty much — you can find me in two places in Texas: My house, or the stadium, because if I go anyplace else, it’s — I can’t go. I love it. I appreciate it. I can’t thank the Houston fans enough for welcoming me and my family,” Watt said.
J.J. Watt never wants to stop working with kids.
After football, he says he could see himself as a high school coach.