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J.J. Watt, Jose Altuve, SI Sportsman of the Year cover

Former Wisconsin Badgers star J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans and Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros have been named co-Sportsperson of the Year by Sports Illustrated.

The prestigious honor always has gone to people who went above and beyond their athletic performances, with off-field sacrifices and charity mattering as much or more as highlight reels and championships, as SI explained in this story.

“Sportsperson should always transcend the mere playing of the game,” former SI managing editor Mark Mulvoy said.

Watt and Altuve were honored for what they did for Houston in the wake of the devastation brought by Hurricane Harvey: Watt raised more than $37 million in relief aid, and Altuve, SI wrote, is the "classic tale of an underestimated athlete overcoming the longest of odds" who was "the joyous catalyst for one of the most unlikely World Series runs in recent memory. Championships don’t save communities, and we should be careful to assign too much weight to their powers of healing. But what other event can bring a million-plus people together and provide a platform, however ephemeral, to cast aside the differences that drive so many of us to sports in the first place?"

"The city of Houston has treated me really good,” Altuve told SI's Tom Verducci. “I felt at that time that I owed them something. So when they were having a hard time, I wanted to give something back to them.”

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