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Woman tried to sell her shoes to pay for grandpa’s funeral. But J. J. Watt stepped in

The NFL star gave one grieving family an incredible gift.
Jennifer Roderick and her dad, Jerry (both right) were very close. When he died unexpectedly on June 20, her niece, Jennifer Simpson, tried to raise money for his funeral. 
Jennifer Roderick and her dad, Jerry (both right) were very close. When he died unexpectedly on June 20, her niece, Jennifer Simpson, tried to raise money for his funeral. Courtesy Jennifer Simpson and Tara Roderick
/ Source: TODAY

When Jennifer Simpson, a teacher in Texas, posted her J.J. Watt-edition sneakers and jersey on Twitter, her only hope was to help raise money for her grandfather's funeral.

What she got instead was an emotional reaction from the athlete himself.

"I have a pair of @JJWatt womens edition of Reebok shoes size 9 $60. I’ve worn them twice. They are great shoes, im only selling because we are raising money for my grandpas funeral," Simpson tweeted Wednesday, alongside photos of the items. "I also have a Watt womens XL Texans Jersey $30. Anyone interested?"

The tweet garnered more than 250 replies. One of them was Arizona Cardinals defensive end, J.J. Watt.

"Don't sell your shoes and jersey, we'll help with the funeral," Watt wrote. "I'm sorry for your loss."

Tara Roderick, 34, of Texas told TODAY Parents she never expected her niece’s tweet would catch Watt’s attention.

“We did not expect anything,” Roderick told TODAY Parents. “We were just expecting that maybe another fan would want to buy that jersey or shoes.”

Roderick said Simpson messaged her on Facebook to share the news.

“I really don’t know how to do Twitter,” Simpson said. “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.’”

Roderick told TODAY Parents that she was skeptical at first.

“Then Jennifer sent me a screenshot where he had sent money through Paypal,” Roderick said. “I almost died. He said he was sorry for our loss and gave his donation.”

Roderick’s father and Simpson’s grandfather, Jerry Roderick, passed away unexpectedly on June 20.

“It came out of the blue,” Roderick said. “They had just run bloodwork on him and all of a sudden he had cardiac arrest.”

On July 6, Simpson shared on Twitter it had been two weeks since her grandfather had passed away and her family was struggling to pay for the funeral.

"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 wrote. "I’m behind on grad school and will have to cancel my next work trip- which is fine. I’m out everyday selling baked goods and plates, but we need more."

On Thursday, Simpson shared on Twitter, and Roderick confirmed to TODAY, that funeral services had been paid off and the family was working on cemetery costs.

"I would love to talk to J.J. myself, because what he has done has lifted a little burden knowing we can lay my dad to rest after a month," Roderick told TODAY.

Related: JJ Watt surprise his 4th-grade teacher at her retirement party

This isn't the first time Watt, who was a first-round draft by the Houston Texans in 2011, has made a charitable mark.

In 2017, Sports Illustrated reported the athlete raised more than $37 million to help Houston rebuild after Hurricane Harvey. The funds went toward more than 1,100 homes.