J.J. Watt Threw A Retirement Party For The Teacher Who Encouraged Him To Play Football

"You can do whatever you want to do."

Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt took the time this week to do something special for an important figure in his life — his fourth-grade teacher Judy Keefe, who is retiring after more than 40 years.

Watt surprised Mrs. Keefe during class on Monday and shared the heartwarming moment on Facebook Live. He explained how much she's meant to his football career, as she encouraged him from a young age to pursue his dream.

"She was one of the first people to believe in my dream of playing for the [Wisconsin] Badgers and eventually the NFL and she has taught, inspired and motivated many others," the 28-year-old athlete wrote in an Instagram post about the surprise. "She is incredible and I couldn't be more thankful to still have her in my life."


Watt presented Mrs. Keefe and her class with a cake, and gave her a pair of shoes and a trip for her and her husband to attend his foundation's Charity Classic softball game. There were also plenty of hugs exchanged.

"Remember, when he was your age, he looked up at me with those baby blues," Mrs. Keefe told her current students, "and he said, 'I want to be a Badger.' I said, 'Boy, you're gonna have to work hard.' ... Look where he is now. You can do whatever you want to do. Whatever you want to do, you can do it."

Watt and his teacher have reportedly stayed in touch over the years through the J.J. Watt Foundation, which provides funding for middle school athletic programs.

Mrs. Keefe spoke to Today about the surprise and described Watt as "a positive role model" and "a great student."

"I was very honored by him and my colleagues," she said. "It is a joy to continue to work for him and his foundation."

It's just one of the many ways Watt continues to give back. Last year, for example, he starred with fellow athletes Derek Jeter and Kevin Durant in a series of inspirational ads encouraging fans to make a difference in their community. The year before that, he visited kids at the Houston Texans and learned a few dance moves.

(H/T: Us Weekly)


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