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Volume 24 No. 236
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SI Names Houston Athletes J.J. Watt, Jose Altuve '17 Sportspersons Of The Year

SI has named Texans DE J.J. Watt and Astros 2B Jose Altuve as its ’17 Sportspersons of the Year, with the Houston-based tandem each honored for their work helping inspire and repair the battered Texas city. Watt’s selection was centered on his raising more than $37M in donations for victims of Hurricane Harvey, while Altuve helped lead the Astros to their first-ever World Series title just weeks after the hurricane while also garnering the AL MVP award. The Time Inc.-owned title will recognize the pair tonight at an awards ceremony at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. “What they each did was great individually, but together they formed an even better and deeper story about the connection between Houston’s sports teams and the city,” said SI Group Senior VP & Editorial Dir Chris Stone. “Houston is really a central character in their stories.” SI’s internal selection of Watt as a Sportsperson of the Year came first as he raised more than 185 times his initial relief goal of $200,000, with Altuve following later in the selection process. “Together it feels like a much more complete story. It would have been really incomplete to have one without the other,” Stone said. Watt and Altuve beat out several other potential honorees including Patriots QB Tom Brady, Warriors F Kevin Durant and Lynx F Maya Moore, who will be recognized with a newly created Performer of the Year award. Watt and Altuve are profiled in this week’s special double issue in separate stories written by Robert Klemko and Tom Verducci. The recognition of Watt and Altuve comes amid the 30th anniversary of the “Athletes Who Care” group SI recognized in ’87 (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer). The cover was unveiled last night on NBC's "The Tonight Show." Watt was a guest on the show and noted more than 200,000 people donated money "to help rebuild the city." He said, "It's an award that's so much bigger than sports" ("The Tonight Show," NBC, 12/4).

HOUSTON'S STRONG SHOWING: In Houston, David Barron reports SI editors "initially planned to present the award to Watt but elected also to honor Altuve after the Astros' seven-game World Series win over the Dodgers." By picturing Watt and Altuve on the cover with the words "Houston Strong," Stone said that SI also "recognizes the city they represent." Stone: "People understand the depth of what Houston endured, and we hope this will bring some measure of excitement and joy while acknowledging that it's just an award" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 12/5).