Today, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is a successful actor, but before the big screens, he had reached a point so low he had to steal steaks from a local grocery store.
Dwayne Johnson's grandfather Peter "High Chief" Fanene Maivia and father Rocky "Soul Man" Johnson were professional wrestlers. Young Johnson's first interest was, however, not in wrestling but pro-football.
His promising football career was suddenly cut short when he sustained a horrible injury. So he joined WWE as "The Rock," winning The Heavyweight Title many times and earning himself nicknames such as "The People's Champion" and "The Great One."
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson attends CinemaCon 2014 Off and Running: Opening Night Studio Presentation from Paramount Pictures at Caesars Palace during CinemaCon 2014 on March 24, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. | Source: Getty Images
Parlaying his wrestling popularity into an acting career, Johnson is today an acclaimed actor with roles in hit franchises such as "Jumanji," "The Fast and the Furious," as well as the voice of the demi-god Maui in "Moana."
His movies have been an enormous success, bringing in an estimated 10 billion dollars worldwide, and putting him on the top of Forbes's highest-paid actors, two years consecutively. But his success has not come easy.
Like many successful people who have had to beat the odds to attain their current status and accomplishments, Johnson started at the bottom of the barrel, with his family facing eviction when he was only a teen.
Dwayne Johnson attending the premiere of 'Rampage' in England. Source | Photo: Getty Images
Johnson spent this formative and teen years in Honolulu, Hawaii. An only child, he mostly lived with his mother, Ata, while his father traveled all over looking for wrestling gigs.
Johnson's relationship with his father was also quickly taking a downhill. The "Baywatch" actor was angry with his father for being absent and making him move so much during his childhood due to his wrestling work.
THE EVICTION NOTICE
Being a teen, he had made some unwise choices and joined a theft ring that targeted the opulent stores in Waikiki, often landing him on the wrong side of the law.
But it was one devastating event that forever changed the course of his life. A week after he had to witness his mother in tears after her car was repossessed, he came home to find an eviction notice on the door to the family home.
"The Jungle Cruise" star says that at the time, they were barely scraping by. The notice devastated Johnson and his mother and cast over them a shadow of hopelessness. He recalls:
“We come home, and there’s a padlock on the door and an eviction notice. My mom starts bawling. She just started crying and breaking down."
The two were forced off the island and had nowhere to call home. They would soon find their way to a motel just outside of Nashville, Tennessee.
With no means of a living, Johnson resorted to doing the one thing that seemed to make sense at the time, if only to feed his and his mother's hungry stomachs. He started stealing steaks from a grocery store.
The skewed solution was not sustainable, as Johnson would soon realize he had no equipment or means to prepare the steaks back at the motel.
His mother started working odd jobs to provide a home for them, which became the turning point for Johnson. He made a resolve never to go through a situation like that again.
He began training his body, lifting heavy weights to build muscles, and pushing himself so hard that within no time, he looked buff enough to try out for the football team, with a vision of playing in the NFL.
After a little coercing and encouragement from a high school teacher, paired with his enthusiasm for a better life, he quickly excelled in the field, winning a full scholarship to a top football college, the University of Miami.
Upon joining the university, Johnson was ecstatic to learn that he was the only freshman on the team, which was not common in football.
However, his excitement would be short-lived, and after sustaining several injuries, he sank into a series of depression periods. He recalls the devastating moments in his life:
“I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t know why I didn’t want to do anything. I had never experienced anything like that.”
PRO-WRESTLING AND A CAREER IN ACTING
After a series of other injuries, Johnson hung up his football coat and returned home to Tampa. Despite his father's wrestling life causing Johnson so much pain in his childhood, he saw wrestling as the ticket out of his deplorable situation.
And so, his father reluctantly began training him. Soon he joined the ring. His fans highly censured his first few attempts as a nice guy, so he quickly adopted a tough guy persona, and he did so well he started bagging titles.
With 17 championship reigns to his name, Johnson went down in history as one of the most successful wrestlers. However, his life was about to take another drastic twist when he was invited to host an episode of Saturday Night Live.
This would become the beginning of his career in film, as it led to him landing a role in "The Mummy Returns," followed by others such as "Get Smart," "The Game Plan," and "Be Cool," among many more.
Johnson has since created a name for himself in the industry, with most of his movies becoming blockbusters and placing him as one of the most sought-after actors of the generation.
But despite his success, Johnson has not forgotten where he came from and has, over the years, strived to make a difference in people's lives by contributing to helping others on the verge of homelessness, like he once was, find their footing.
In 2018, Johnson received an Inspiration Award at the L.A. Family Housing Awards in West Hollywood for his contribution to a fundraiser that saw the cause raise an astounding 1.65 million dollars.
In his acceptance speech, Johnson, amid threatening tears, recalled how hard it had been for him when his family got evicted, hence his desire to help others in his situation.
After receiving his award from a family rescued from homelessness by the initiative, Johnson told his story. The 800 guests in attendance rose to their feet and gave Johnson a standing ovation.
"RETURNING A FAVOR"
And in the spirit of paying forward, Johnson gifted a 30,000 dollar truck as a thank-you gift to his long-time friend, Bruno Lauer.
Lauer had taken Johnson in when he and his mother were evicted from Hawaii, and a second time, he was trying to make a career out of wrestling.
Johnson posted the emotional surprise on his Instagram page, alongside a backstory of why he was "returning the favor" and promising Lauer that he had him covered when he chose to retire.
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