Ten-year-old tyke Peyton Watson is the only girl playing in the youth football league in football-crazed Katy, Texas, but she knows she’s not even the toughest female in her own family.
Drawing inspiration from her maternal grandmother, Linda Crisp, who has been battling breast cancer since 2010, Watson raised $3,000 selling “Tuff Girl” t-shirts for cancer research.
“My mom would always call Peyton her tough girl,” Peyton’s mother, Tracy Watson, told the TODAY show. “But Peyton tells her, ‘No, you’re really the tough one.”
Watson’s inspiring story earned her a spot as one of five finalists for a trip to Super Bowl 50 as part of TODAY’s “Together We Make Football” series. She learned of the opportunity from Texans star defensive end J.J. Watt — a role model to any young football player in the Houston suburb of Katy, especially Watson — who called her on stage during an event at her school.
“For somebody of your age to care so much about other people — it’s awesome,” said Watt. “It’s inspiring. Keep doing what you’re doing. You’re gonna change the world.”
According to the TODAY show hosts, Watt promised Watson a touchdown if he’s put in on offense again this season. He scored three touchdowns on three catches as an occasional tight in 2014. He’s yet to score one this season. And Watson knows a thing or two about being a two-way player as a wide receiver and defensive back in the Fraternity of One youth organization.