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

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

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

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

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

Jessica Simpson, 26, of Texas, received a touching donation from NFL star JJ Watt (pictured) after she tried to sell his merchandise to fund her grandfather's funeral

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

Jerry Roderick Sr.  (pictured with daughter Tara Roderick) died of cardiac arrest on June 20 and his family struggles to cover the cost of his funeral

Jerry Roderick Sr. (pictured with daughter Tara Roderick) died of cardiac arrest on June 20 and his family struggles to cover the cost of his funeral

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

‘Don’t sell your shoes and sweater, we’ll help with the funeral. I’m sorry for your loss,” the defense replied.

Simpson’s Aunt Tara Roderick Told… Today that they didn’t expect more than another fan would buy the jersey or sneakers after seeing the tweet.

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

“Jennifer showed me the JJ’s retweet and I said, ‘What’s that?’ I didn’t know what she showed me. She said, “JJ Watt said he’s going to help pay for Grandpa’s funeral,” she recalls.

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

After organizing bake sales and other fundraisers, Simpson tried to sell a pair of sneakers from Watt’s Reebok line for $60 and his sweater 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 via PayPal. I almost died. He said he was sorry for our loss and gave his donation.’

In another interview with Houston Public MediaRoderick said her father, Jerry, passed away last month from cardiac arrest.

He struggled with his health after a stroke in 2008 and resided in an assisted living facility in Houston. He had seven children, 21 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘I don’t know what else to do. It’s been two weeks since my grandfather passed away and we haven’t raised enough money for his funeral,” she tweeted on July 6. “I’m behind in high school and will have to cancel my next work trip – and that’s fine. I’m out every day selling pastries and plates, but we need more.’

Roderick told Houston Public Media that they could 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 the services can be scheduled.

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

Simpson took to Twitter on Friday to thank Watt and share a post about the backlash from her fundraising efforts — after critics accused her of being a scammer for trying to sell the athlete’s jersey years earlier.

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 you really knew what my family has been through, maybe some of you would show more compassion,” she wrote. “Yes, we have jobs. Yes, we did bake sale, sign sale, garage sale. Yes, we had a GoFundMe promotion.

“With all this we were able to pay a little bit for the funeral. But at the rate we’re raising money, it probably would have been a few more months before we could get the funeral paid in full.”

Simpson confirmed that she had previously tried to sell the sweater and other personal items because she does when money is tight.

‘We don’t come from money. When the going gets tough, we have to figure out how to make ends meet,” she explains. “For me, I will go so far as to sell 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 she never thought Watt would respond to her message, let alone donate money for her grandfather’s funeral expenses.

“This guy has so many followers, I didn’t expect him to see my tweet,” she said. ‘The @ was so others could find the stuff I sold 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 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 charitable donations throughout his NFL career

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

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

Simpson explained that she and her family

Simpson explained that she and her family

Simpson explained that she and her family “don’t make money” and that she will sell personal items online to “make ends meet” if they are short on cash.

“JJ, I’m so grateful to you. You don’t even know. You have lifted a huge weight off my shoulders with your help,” she added. “It was probably nothing to you. Just an act of kindness to a supporter of yours.”

At the end of the post, she noted that she will no longer accept 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 charitable donations throughout his NFL career.

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

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

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

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