Tiffany Cox was overcome with emotion Tuesday afternoon while discussing the impact Texans safety Justin Reid has made on her son, Jake, a cancer survivor.
Reid befriended the 5-year-old after inviting the Cox family to a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars through Candle Lighters, a nonprofit organization that assists families impacted by children with cancer.
Cox got to high-five the players in the tunnel before the game at NRG Stadium. Then, he got to watch Reid make a clutch tackle on Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette to halt a 2-point conversion try to win the game.
From there, Reid and the family built a relationship with the NFL player visiting him in the hospital days after the Jacksonville game. Jake has completed treatment and is now in kindergarten. Reid and Cox and other children played football Tuesday and other games.
“To see him light up the way he has, he watches Justin on TV, he roots for him,” Tiffany Cox said. “He has sparked his interest in life and just being a kid again. I thank Justin for that.”
Reid was nominated by the Texans on Tuesday for the prestigious Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award.
“One of Jake’s favorite moments was the goal line stop on Leonard Fournette,” Reid said. “I saw him in the hospital a couple of days later and he was a ball of energy. I loved his spirit. He loves to be outside. I have a good time playing with him. He doesn’t even know how strong he is. All of these kids are incredible. They don’t understand what they go through.
“They’re always smiling. These kids are tough, man. They’re soldiers. I’m happy to see them all grow up. It’s special to me to watch them grow up and see how happy they are. Extremely important to be outside and do normal things, to be out in the world and be a normal kid for a day, it’s just incredible.”
The award’s winner is announced during the Super Bowl and recognizes an NFL player for his football excellence and community service.
Reid is one of the most active players in the community on the AFC South franchise.
He is an ambassador for Kids Meals Houston and Candle Lighters. Reid partnered with Kroger to host an annual Thanksgiving grocery shopping trip for 20 families, giving each family a $200 gift card from the supermarket chain to shop for their holiday meals.
Reid previously partnered with Candle Lighters. A year later, Reid adopted Kids Meals Houston, not only providing financial support, but volunteering time to put package meals. Reid has personally donated over $100,000 to organizations like Candle Lighters, Kids Meals Houston and other community organizations.
Reid created J Reid Indeed last year. The mission is to inspire self-actualization, increase mental fortitude and combat the digital divides plaguing underprivileged youth. Since its inception, Reid has partnered with Microsoft to provide medical student with tablets and has recently hosted a Hurricane Ida relief drive filling two 18-wheelers of goods and donating nearly $30,000.
The winner of the Walter Payton award, named after the late Chicago Bears legendary running back, will be announced during the week of the Super Bowl and goes to a player who exemplifies football excellent and involvement in the community.
“It's special, man,” Reid said. “You just look at the long history of the Walter Payton family and what all the guys have done in the community. I feel blessed. I feel fortunate to be in position to give back and help people. I'm just humbled and honored to be presenting the Houston Texans and the Walter Payton family and honored for this nomination.”