Teacher, 26, is forced to sell J. J. Watt sneakers and jersey to pay for grandpa’s funeral

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A teacher who tried selling her J.J. Watt sneakers and jersey to fund her grandfather’s funeral has received a touching donation from the NFL star to help cover the costs.

Jennifer Simpson, 26, from Texas, shared on Twitter that she and her family were trying to raise money following the death of her grandfather Jerry Roderick Sr., 73, on June 20.

After hosting bake sales and other fundraisers, Simpson — a Houston Texans fan — attempted to sell some of Watt’s merchandise. 

‘I have a pair of @JJWatt women’s edition of Reebok shoes size 9 $60. I’ve worn them twice. They are great shoes, I’m only selling because we are raising money for my grandpa’s funeral,’ she tweeted on Wednesday, alongside photos of the sneakers. ‘I also have a Watt women’s XL Texans Jersey $30. Anyone interested?’ 

Jessica Simpson, 26, from Texas, received a touching donation from NFL star J.J. Watt (pictured) after she tried selling his merchandise to fund her grandfather’s funeral 

Jerry Roderick Sr. (pictured with his daughter Tara Roderick) died from cardiac arrest on June 20, and his family has been struggling to cover the costs of his funeral service

Jerry Roderick Sr. (pictured with his daughter Tara Roderick) died from cardiac arrest on June 20, and his family has been struggling to cover the costs of his funeral service 

The tweet has received more than 300 responses, including a message from Watt, who played for the Texans for 10 seasons before signing with the Arizona Cardinals. 

‘Don’t sell your shoes and jersey, we’ll help with the funeral. I’m sorry for your loss,’ the defensive end replied. 

Simpson’s aunt Tara Roderick told Today that they didn’t expect anything more than another fan offering to buy the jersey or sneakers after seeing the tweet. 

She explained that she isn’t really familiar with Twitter and wasn’t sure what she was seeing when her niece messaged her on Facebook to share the news.  

‘Jennifer showed me the J.J.’s retweet and I said, “What is that?” I didn’t know what she was showing me. She said, “J.J. Watt said he’s going to help pay for grandpa’s funeral,”‘ she recalled. 

After hosting bake sales and other fundraisers, Simpson tried to sell a pair of sneakers from Watt's Reebok line for $60 and his jersey for $30 on Twitter

After hosting bake sales and other fundraisers, Simpson tried to sell a pair of sneakers from Watt’s Reebok line for $60 and his jersey for $30 on Twitter 

Watt responded to Simpson's tweet, saying he would 'help with the funeral'

Watt responded to Simpson’s tweet, saying he would ‘help with the funeral’

‘Then Jennifer sent me a screenshot where he had sent money through PayPal. I almost died. He said he was sorry for our loss and gave his donation.’

In another interview with Houston Public Media, Roderick shared that her father, Jerry, died from cardiac arrest last month. 

He had been struggling with his health following a stroke in 2008 and had been staying at an assisted living facility in Houston. He had seven children, 21 grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren. 

Jerry’s body has been held at the Brookside Funeral Home & Memorial Park, where the family had an initial balance of $16,000, according to the outlet. 

Simpson has been candid about their financial struggles following her grandfather’s death while trying to raise money for his funeral. 

Simpson, who is a fan of the Houston Texans and Astros, has been candid about her family's financial struggles following her grandfather's death

Simpson, who is a fan of the Houston Texans and Astros, has been candid about her family’s financial struggles following her grandfather’s death 

The family had an initial balance of $16,000 at Brookside Funeral Home & Memorial Park, according to her Simpson's aunt Tara Roderick

The family had an initial balance of $16,000 at Brookside Funeral Home & Memorial Park, according to her Simpson’s aunt Tara Roderick

‘I don’t know what else to do. It’s been 2 weeks since my grandpa passed and we have yet to raise enough money for his funeral,’ she tweeted on July 6. ‘I’m behind on grad school and will have to cancel my next work trip — which is fine. I’m out every day selling baked goods and plates, but we need more.’

Roderick told Houston Public Media they were able to pay off $4,000 from various fundraisers, but they still owe more than $7,000. She said Watt’s donation was in the $5,000 range, though she declined to share the exact amount. 

Dignity Memorial, the company that runs the funeral home, confirmed to the outlet that the family must pay the remaining balance before services can be scheduled. 

A GoFundMe has been set up by Roderick with a goal of $10,000 to cover the remaining costs. 

Simpson returned to Twitter on Friday to thank Watt and share a message addressing the backlash following her fundraising efforts — after critics accused her of being a scammer because she tried selling the athlete’s jersey years before. 

Roderick said Watt's donation was in the $5,000 range, though she declined to share the exact amount. A GoFundMe has been set up to cover the remaining costs

Roderick said Watt’s donation was in the $5,000 range, though she declined to share the exact amount. A GoFundMe has been set up to cover the remaining costs

Watt played for the Texans for 10 seasons before signing with the Arizona Cardinals

Watt played for the Texans for 10 seasons before signing with the Arizona Cardinals

‘If y’all really knew the behind the scenes of what my family has been dealing with, some of you might show more compassion,’ she wrote. ‘Yes, we have jobs. Yes, we’ve done bake sales, plate sales, garage sales. Yes, we’ve had a GoFundMe up. 

‘With all of this, we were able to pay a little bit towards the funeral. However, at the rate we were raising money, it would have taken a couple of more months probably before we could have the funeral paid in full.’

Simpson confirmed that she had attempted to sell the jersey and other personal items before because that is what she does when money is tight. 

‘We don’t come from money. When things get tough, we have to figure out how to make ends meet,’ she explained. ‘For me, I will go to the point of selling things of value to me. That should tell you something about me as a person and what I’m willing to do for my family.’ 

She insisted that she never imagined Watt would respond to her message, let alone donate money toward her grandfather’s funeral costs. 

‘This man has so many followers, I did not expect him to see my tweet,’ she said. ‘The @ was so others could find the stuff I was selling if they were really interested. 

Watt, who is expecting his first child with his soccer star wife Kealia Ohai Watt (pictured), has been known for his charitable donations throughout his NFL career

Watt, who is expecting his first child with his soccer star wife Kealia Ohai Watt (pictured), has been known for his charitable donations throughout his NFL career

Simpson returned to Twitter on Friday to thank Watt and share a message addressing the backlash following her fundraising efforts

Simpson returned to Twitter on Friday to thank Watt and share a message addressing the backlash following her fundraising efforts

Simpson explained that she and her family 'don't come from money,' and she will sell personal items online to 'make ends meet' when they are strapped for cash

Simpson explained that she and her family 'don't come from money,' and she will sell personal items online to 'make ends meet' when they are strapped for cash

Simpson explained that she and her family ‘don’t come from money,’ and she will sell personal items online to ‘make ends meet’ when they are strapped for cash 

‘J.J., I’m so very thankful for you. You don’t even know. You have lifted a huge weight off of my shoulders with your help,’ she added. ‘For you, it probably was nothing. Just an act of kindness to a supporter of yours.’

At the end of the message, she noted that she will no longer be accepting donations after their funeral is paid in full and they have a date for her grandfather’s services. 

Watt, who is expecting his first child with his soccer star wife Kealia Ohai Watt, has been known for his charitable donations throughout his NFL career. 

In November, he offered to pay for the funerals of all the victims of the Waukesha Christmas parade tragedy. Six people were killed and 62 others were injured after an SUV was driven through the parade in suburban Wisconsin. 

The athlete and his wife donated $350,000 to Houston Food Bank amid the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. 

Watt was also named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year in 2017 after raising more than $40 for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. 

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