On July 2, 2007, in Texas, a family of five was driving home from their summer vacation when their joyous lives were instantly shuttered. In the car were two wonderful parents, and three little boys, Peter 9, Aaron 8 and Willa 6.
When their car was hit, head on, by a distracted driver, the two older boys were paralyzed and little Willa had numerous broken bones. When the boys were out of danger, their aunt delivered to each one the devastating news that their mom and dad did not make it. Paralysis was ahead of both Peter and Aaron, and seemingly, the three boys had nothing to look forward to in life.
Thirteen dark days passed when a huge, six-foot five-inch, 290-pound hero entered the hospital room of the three now orphaned little boys. He was the pride of Pewaukee Wisconsin, the Pro Bowler, NFL record holder for sacks and tip passes, Houston Texans’ defensive end, J.J. Watt.
“I wanted to do anything that I could to help put a smile on their face for two seconds”, J.J. said in an interview with Godvine.com**. Aaron could not stop smiling and Peter knew instantly that J.J. was “the giver”, the one who cared. He offered his iPad to J.J. to put his phone number in there, and the relationship started from simple texting. The NFL Player visited the boys very often in the hospital and then later at their aunt’s house.
J.J. Watt rushed hard all season long, but also spent lots of time with the boys, mixing it up with sports, music, training and school. He has been a part of their lives ever since that first meeting. The boys are amazed how J.J. can be a kid and an adult, a playmate and a mentor, all within the same visit. He shoots hoops, helps them with some power lifting, playing football on their street, helps with their homework, tries card tricks and whatever else adds some joy to the moment.
The boys’ aunt never knew who J.J. Watt was before the accident. She is thankful for his amazing presence and involvement since then though. Although J.J. likes country music, not only did he take the kids to a Justin Bieber concert, but he also arranged for them to meet him in person. He also sent them a special message on TV during one of the Houston Texans game, what he called “the wheelchair salute”. Aaron could not believe that he saluted them in front of millions of TV viewers, and Peter can’t wait to show his friends the huge J.J. shoe that decorates his bookcase. His wheelchair also sports a license plate with J.J.’s name on it. Peter recently wrote an essay in school for his hero, the one who he looks up to and the one who shows him never to give up – and he always wears J.J. Watt’s bracelet: DB&WH (Dream Big & Work Hard).
For today, we salute a great NFL hero J.J. Watt – and the three little boys he has grown to love: Peter, Aaron and Willa.
Until next time,
Founder of Insightful Player, LLCPS: The Insightful Player® Game on Lifeville is full of Life Lessons from NFL Players… what better role models for the kids of today than Professional Athletes… they are inspiring our youth! To play the game, go to: http://www.lifeville.com/games/insightful-player-game
**The Insightful Player® acknowledges the Houston Chronicle, NFLCharities.org, Godvine.com and USA Today as sources for this article and the quotations herein.
To hear the entire audio interview on Godvine.com, please go to http://www.godvine.com/NFL-Player-Befriends-3-Paralyzed-Orphans-2574.html