JJ Watt says he and his wife Kealia Ohai push each other to train harder, noting it’s "one of the best things about our relationship"

By Greg Hanlon
March 01, 2021 12:17 PM
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JJ Watt didn't address any speculation about his next team during a Sunday online Q&A with military service members.

But during the 45-minute discussion organized by the United Service Organizations, the current NFL free agent did open up about who the best athlete in his family is.

"If I say anything but my wife I'll get my a-- kicked," quipped Watt, who married soccer star Kealia Ohai last year.

Watt says he and Ohai, a forward for the Chicago Red Stars of the NWSL, push each other to train harder, saying it's "one of the best things about our relationship."

He says Ohai has him beat on "speed and agility" drills, but adds, "I challenge her on strength activities."

Kealia Ohai Watt, JJ Watt
JJ Watt and Kealia Ohai
| Credit: Kealia Ohai Watt/Instagram

The Q&A with Watt, hosted by Chris Jacobs, was one of many online activities the USO has hosted since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, including Zoom performances and virtual baby showers. Watt talked with service members and their families stationed across the globe in countries including Afghanistan, Japan, and Germany.

Watt, whose grandfather fought in the Korean War, praised the service members, saying, "As athletes, we often get the headlines, and fame and praise we don't necessarily deserve. The people who deserve it are our military heroes who protect our freedom."

JJ Watt USO
JJ Watt and Chris Jacobs join military service members
| Credit: Courtesy USO
JJ Watt USO
JJ Watt and Chris Jacobs join military service members
| Credit: Courtesy USO
JJ Watt USO
JJ Watt and Chris Jacobs join military service members
| Credit: Courtesy USO

Watt credited his parents, including his firefighter father and his mother, who worked her way up from being a secretary to a vice president at her company, with instilling the work ethic that has propelled his storied NFL career.

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He also said his parents motivated his charitable giving and community engagement. Most famously, Watt raised $37 million after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas in 2017, which as of 2019 had rebuilt over 1,100 homes and provided 239 million meals. He also runs the JJ Watt Foundation, which provides athletics-based after school activities to middle school students.

"The one thing they always taught me was how fortunate we have it, and that not everyone is so lucky," said Watt, who is currently in Wisconsin and training for the upcoming season with his brothers, NFL players T.J. and Derek.

J.J. Watt
Bob Levey/Getty

During the interview, Watt discouraged parents from having their children specialize in a particular sport, saying he benefitted from playing multiple sports at a high level growing up, including hockey, baseball and track.

Watt also opened up about his most cherished football memories: His favorite college game was when his Wisconsin team knocked off No. 1 ranked Ohio State in 2010. His favorite pro game was during the first round in the playoffs his rookie year in 2011, when his Houston Texans notched the franchise's first ever playoff win by beating the Cincinnati Bengals, helped along by an interception Watt returned for a touchdown.

"That will always be special to me because of what it meant to Houston, and also I got to kind of introduce myself," said Watt, who added that during his 10 years with the Texans, Houston fans "took me in as one of their own and treated me like family."

Though Watt — who was released from the Texans earlier this year — didn't discuss his potential next team, he said he looked forward to the prospect of playing in front of fans again in 2021.

"When there's no fans, it's a surreal experience. You can get a sack on third down to secure the game and nobody does anything," he said.

"They always say you don't fully appreciate something until it's gone. And I really missed the fans."