Too often, we allow one bad apple to spoil the whole bunch. Isn’t that how it goes? In recent years, there has been a great deal of negative press surrounding male athletes in both the collegiate and professional arena. While the behavior reported out on has, no doubt, been disheartening, society has tended to turn the unacceptable actions of a few into a label worn by the many. However, how often does the opposite happen? When is the last time we saw the kindness of one person and allowed it to give us faith in an entire group? Just when you think cynicism may outweigh faith, someone like Houston Texans’ lineman J.J Watt steps in with an act of kindness profound enough to change the minds of even the biggest skeptics.
It was a short time ago in January that America was introduced to six year old Breanna Bartay, via a YouTube video that would show the world she is certainly J.J. Watt’s biggest fan. It all unraveled after little Breanna’s mother called her into the living room to see an interview during which Watt admitted it was hard for him to find a girlfriend. Naturally, his biggest fan was raring to fill the position; until her grandmother told her she couldn’t get married until she was 25.
This new found restriction didn’t sit well with the star of our story and hence, her viral video was born, turning her into an Internet sensation. As Breanna began to cry, her mother asked her what was wrong. Through tears she sweetly admitted, “I wish I was 25.” and when mom once again probed her as to why, the obvious answer was because, “I wanna marry J.J. Watt.”
Breanna’s confession quickly caught the hearts of thousands of viewers, Watt included. Shortly after the video went viral, the Texans’ star used social media to find his small suitor, tweeting “Does anyone know this cute little girl? We have to find her and turn those tears into a smile.” In this case, twitter would prove to be the ultimate matchmaker, doing more than simply drying Breanna’s eyes.
Within weeks, Watt scheduled a tour of the Houston Texans’ Reliant Stadium for Breanna and her family, but star treatment and giant photos of J.J. throughout the facility wouldn’t end up being the highlight of her day. As she walked through the gift shop, the little girl who shared her wish to marry the star lineman would find him down on his knee, ready to surprise her with, no doubt, the most exciting question of her young life. Upon meeting Breanna, J.J. asked her to be his pretend wife for the day, offering her a ring pop for her finger and the white version of his number 99 jersey as a wedding dress. You might think the incredible gestures stop there, but you would be wrong. After she said yes, Watt played along, putting on his own candy ring and informing her that he was relieved she said yes; his nerves had apparently gotten the better of him since he had never “fake proposed” before. Like a gentleman and proper groom, he presented Breanna flowers, spent the entire day with her and her family and ensured that the bride participated in the traditional first dance to none other than Justin Bieber’s As Long As You Love Me. To appropriately end this magical day of pretend wedded bliss, J.J. told Breanna he loved her and she reciprocated the feeling; naturally.
J.J. Watt is 23 years old. He was, not so long ago, a college football star, big man on the University of Wisconsin’s campus. He was the eleventh pick in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft. In 2012, Watt was the AFC, PFWA and AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year. The point is, by all accounts, J.J. Watt is a young man who is a big deal in the world of professional sports; he could have easily done nothing in response to this little girl’s video without anyone batting an eye, but he didn’t. Watt could have called the Bartay family and thanked Breanna over the phone for being such a big fan, but he didn’t. Fans and media alike would have considered him sincerely gracious had he given her tickets to a game and met her for a photo afterward, but he didn’t do that either. Rather, J.J. Watt went above and beyond what anyone would have expected of him by seeking out his biggest fan, taking an entire day out of his schedule to spend with her and making all of her dreams come true. That is a truly rare and selfless act of kindness.
Perhaps next time an athlete or idol exhibits poor behavior, we will think twice about categorizing all others who share in their title. J.J. Watt is a heartwarming example of the incredible kindness and good that exist everyday in this world, even when it isn’t on display. So, thank you J.J. Not only did you make Breanna Bartay’s dreams of becoming your wife a reality, you restored the faith of many that true, honest acts of kindness do still exist and are often just waiting to be uncovered.
Feature Image via Yahoo Sports