People from all walks of life are banding together to help those in Houston who have been affected by Hurricane Harvey over the last few days. From big-name celebrities like Beyoncé and Kevin Hart to everyday people who are donating whatever they can to assist with relief efforts, it’s been pretty amazing to see individuals all across the nation help with one common cause. (If you're still looking for ways to do your part, you can find options here.)
The sports world, in particular, has stepped up in a big way to help those in Houston. In the coming days, weeks, and months, we hope to see even more athletes and sports teams doing what they can to assist the city—both those inside and outside of Houston. But so far, there are a lot of sports figures who have laid down a solid foundation and led the charge for providing Hurricane Harvey relief.
J.J. Watt, star defensive end for the Houston Texans, has been one of the most outspoken athletes. Over the weekend, he set out to raise $200,000 by calling on his fellow athletes and his fans to make donations. Many people, including new Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul, responded in droves. For a short time, the website Watt used to raise money, YouCaring, was knocked offline due to the overwhelming response he received. At this point, Watt has helped raise more than $2 million, leading him to set a new goal of $3 million.
Watt’s fundraising effort led to his team, the Texans, and its owner Bob McNair agreeing to kick in a $1 million donation to the United Way of Greater Houston's flood relief fund. That $1 million donation was then matched by the NFL Foundation, meaning Watt’s original push has gone far beyond what he imagined.
The Texans aren’t the only Houston-based sports team kicking in money, either. The Rockets and their owner Leslie Alexander committed to contributing $4 million to Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Hurricane Harvey relief fund. After seeing the devastation worsen, Alexander quietly pledged another $6 million to the fund, bringing the Rockets’ total donation up to $10 million.
Houston Astros owner Jim Crane, in conjunction with the Astros Foundation, donated $4 million as well, with Major League Baseball and the MLBPA donating $1 million to a handful of different relief efforts in Houston.
Rockets star James Harden jumped into the fray as well, pledging to donate $1 million to aid in recovery. Harden announced the large donation in an appearance at NRG Center, where a large portion of evacuees have been housed since disaster struck.
Outside of Houston, the Cowboys and Patriots have picked up their checkbooks and pledged to donate $1 million each to relief funds.
Some athletes are doing more than just donating money. Rockets center Clint Capela, for example, called on his Twitter followers to send rescue requests to him. He got an overwhelming number of responses and spent most of the last few days tweeting out many of the pleas for help.
Meanwhile, NBA player Gerald Green, a Houston native, took to Instagram Live to call for those with boats to help him conduct rescues as he drove around the city in his truck. Green said even though he rarely uses social media to connect with fans, he knew it would be a good way to encourage those who could help to do so.
UFC fighter Derrick Lewis, who is from New Orleans, put out an open call for rescue requests on his Facebook page—and then went and carried some of them out on his own. Video has circulated online that shows Lewis helping people to safety.
While what’s happening in Houston is clearly heartbreaking, it’s been inspiring to see so many people—those in the sports world and otherwise—doing whatever it takes to help out. If you want to help, there are lots of ways to do it. Pick one of them now and make a difference.