Justin Reid built a strong legacy for giving back in Houston, a penchant for helping others fostered through his parents and the community-minded example of older former teammates like Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus.
The Texans’ veteran free agent safety, a Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee, hopes that’s how he’s remembered in Houston. That’s what’s important to the Louisiana native.
“That’s how I hope I’m always thought of and remembered is for a legacy for service, for giving, for caring about people,” said Reid, whom league sources predicted will not return to the Texans and will command a strong market in free agency. “That’s because when I was growing up I had good role models, guys I looked up to. I feel like that’s made such an impact on my life and giving me a lot of direction and foundation that I want to pay it forward, people like my father, doing things for the next generation. That’s why I love working with kids so much and helping them out.”
Reid is one of 32 nominees for the annual Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award. Considered the league's most prestigious honor, the award recognizes an NFL player for outstanding community service activities off the field, as well as excellence on the field.
The winner of the award each year receives a $250,000 donated to the winner's charity of choice. All other 31 nominees receive up to $40,000 donated to their charity of choice. All donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation and Nationwide.
“It’s an honor just to be nominated, to be associated with the great Walter Payton,” Reid said. “It means so much to me.”
Reid is holding a charity event at Wakefield Crowbar on Saturday between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. for a Tweet and Greet with $25,000 going to establish tech zones in Houston with his charitable foundation.
“We’re going to have a lot of food, fun, games, volleyball, basketball,” Reid said. “It’s going to be great. I can’t wait for Saturday. I’m so excited.”
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, an organization that provides emotional, educational and practical support to families of children with cancer. 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.
"I was fortunate to grow up in a household where I always had a hot meal on the table every day," Reid said. "I see so many families in need and I have to use my platform to do what I can. That is what my parents instilled in me."