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Getty images - Instagram/The Rock
Source: Getty images - Instagram/The Rock

Dwayne Johnson Buys Truck for Man Who Gave Him Place to Live When He Was a Homeless Teen from Hawaii

Esther NJeri
Jun 29, 2022
03:30 P.M.
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Dwayne Johnson has come a long way since his struggling childhood. While the journey to stardom has been nothing but smooth, he never forgets where he came from. Time and again, he appreciates the people that helped him along the way.

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After parlaying his wrestling popularity into an acting career, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is today a renowned actor with roles in hit franchises such as "The Fast and the Furious" and "Jumanji," as well as voicing the demi-god Maui in "Moana."

His journey has been a long one to achieving his success today, and he has worked extra hard to overcome the poverty that riddled his childhood. Johnson's success story is the typical grace-to-grass narrative.

Actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson attends Warner Bros. Pictures "The Big Picture" presentation at Caesars Palace during CinemaCon 2022, on April 26, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. | Source: Getty Images

Actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson attends Warner Bros. Pictures "The Big Picture" presentation at Caesars Palace during CinemaCon 2022, on April 26, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. | Source: Getty Images

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With drive and an unparalleled determination, he fought his way to the top and today ranks on the top of Forbes's highest-paid actors. But his success has not come easy.

A POVERTY-STRICKEN CHILDHOOD

Johnson is known for releasing hit movies, topping Forbes' lists, and doing vigorous gym regimens today, but believe it or not, that has not always been the case. Growing up, Johnson always spotted soft Afro hair and had delicate features.

His appearance would often get him confused for a girl. He retold how, because his father was a professional wrestler, his family would move a lot during his childhood. That meant he would transfer schools every so often.

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He recalls one time when he started attending a new school, and the moment he sat down in his new class, the boy sitting next to him said:

"Can I ask you something? Are you a boy or a girl?"

Surprising as the question was, it did not bother Johnson as it had happened before. Even so, questions about his gender were the least of his childhood worries.

Actor Dwayne Johnson of MOANA took part today in "Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios: The Upcoming Films" presentation at Disney's D23 EXPO 2015 in Anaheim, Calif. | Source: Getty Images

Actor Dwayne Johnson of MOANA took part today in "Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios: The Upcoming Films" presentation at Disney's D23 EXPO 2015 in Anaheim, Calif. | Source: Getty Images

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Poverty has no dignity, and Johnson, who grew up poor, knows that all too well. When he was thirteen, he became involved with the wrong company. He made unwise choices and joined a theft ring that targeted the opulent stores, which often landed him in trouble with the law.

Things took a turn for the worse when Johnson turned 14. After his parents failed to meet the rent, his family got evicted from their 180-dollar-a-week one-bedroom apartment in Hawaii.

Dwayne Johnson arrives at the "Faster" Los Angeles Premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on November 22, 2010 in Hollywood, California. | Source: Getty Images

Dwayne Johnson arrives at the "Faster" Los Angeles Premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on November 22, 2010 in Hollywood, California. | Source: Getty Images

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One evening, he and his mom had come home to find a padlock and an eviction notice on the door. Johnson recalled the tough times now behind him:

"My mom starts bawling. She just started crying and breaking down. 'Where are we going to live? What are we going to do?'"

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At the time, Johnson was also dealing with his complicated relationship with his dad. A pro wrestler, Rocky Johnson, was almost always away on wrestling gigs, and his relationship with his son suffered the brunt of it. Johnson says of his late father, who died on January 15, 2020, at age 75.

"The relationship that I had with my dad was incredibly complicated — that was fueled by tough love."

THE MAN THAT CHANGED THE TRAJECTORY OF JOHNSON'S LIFE

After being evicted from their Hawaii home, Johnson packed and moved to Nashville to live with his father. But when he landed, the actor realized plans had changed, and he would instead be living with a man he'd never met before — Bruno Lauer.

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Lauer, a wrestling manager in the 90s, took Johnson in and lived with him in a tiny room at a spot called the Alamo Plaza motel. He treated Johnson like his son, even buying him his first car, a thunderbird, worth $40.

Due to the complicated relationship with his father, Johnson was an angry teen who would often get into fights. Eventually, realizing that he was ruining his life, he decided to channel his anger into something more productive.

He started lifting weights and joined a small wrestling organization in Tennessee where he would wrestle nightly at flea markets, fairs, and used car dealerships for $40 bucks a night.

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Despite his father's wrestling life causing Johnson a painful childhood, he saw wrestling as the ticket out of his deplorable situation. Soon after, he joined the ring.

His fans highly chastised his first attempts as a nice guy, so he quickly adopted a tough guy persona, and he did so well he started bagging titles. He later transitioned to making movies, a career that has made him the success he is today.

APPRECIATING THOSE WHO HELPED HIM UP

Johnson has been through the rollercoaster of life, but now that he is successful, he never forgets where he came from and those that helped him climb the rungs.

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When filming "Young Rock," a docuseries chronicling his life, Johnson invited a special guest — Lauer. After retelling how Lauer took him in at 15, then again nine years later when he hit hard times trying to make a career out of wrestling, he shared how Lauer used his last $40 to buy him his first car.

He then broke the news that he had bought Lauer a $30,000 truck to return the favor granted decades ago. As Lauer stared in disbelief, Johnson let him know that he got him "covered" once he retired from the business. He added:

"I love you, brother. Your kindness and heart - helped change my life's trajectory."

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Among those that Johnson wishes to give back to is his mother, Ata Johnson. Johnson posted an emotional story about his mom in honor of Mothers Day 2015.

Johnson shared a photo of his mother in a private airplane. He then shared how they had been sitting opposite each other when she looked around the plane and was in disbelief of her life.

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The "Jungle Cruise" actor asked if she was happy, and before she could answer, the flight attendant brought food and placed it on her table. As tears welled in Ata's eyes, she replied:

"Am I happy? I used to worry about how I was going to buy groceries for us, and now I just had my breakfast placed down in front of me."

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While "The Game Plan" actor has always been generous with his gifts to his mom, his June 4 present outdid the rest. Johnson brought his mother to tears when he gifted her a new house.

In the video that showed Ata taking a tour of her new home, Johnson shared how, as a little boy, he hated seeing his mom cry, adding that he is now glad to see her cry because they are tears of joy.

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