Dwayne Johnson

///
4 mins read

Dwayne Douglas Johnson (also known by his ring name the Rock) was born May 2, 1972.

He is a Canadian-American actor, producer, businessman, retired professional wrestler, and former American football and Canadian football player. He wrestled for the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, later WWE) for eight years prior to pursuing an acting career.  

Johnson was a college football player for the University of Miami, with whom he won a national championship in 1991. He aspired to a professional career in football and entered the 1995 NFL Draft, but went undrafted. He signed with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League (CFL), but was cut from the team in his first season. Shortly after, he began training as a professional wrestler.

In 1996, Johnson secured a contract with the WWF and was promoted as the first third-generation wrestler in WWF history, as he is the son of Rocky Johnson and grandson of Peter Maivia. He rose to prominence after developing the charismatic, boastful, trash-talking Rock persona. He won his first WWF Championship in 1998 and helped usher the WWF into the Attitude Era, a boom period in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In 2004, he left the WWE to pursue an acting career. He returned in 2011 as a part-time performer until 2013, and made sporadic appearances until retiring in 2019.

He was born in Hayward, California, to Ata Johnson (née Maivia) and former professional wrestler Rocky Johnson (born Wayde Douglas Bowles). Growing up, Johnson lived briefly in New Zealand with his mother’s family, where he played rugby and attended Richmond Road Primary School in Grey Lynn before returning to the United States. He then attended Montclaire Elementary School in Charlotte, North Carolina before moving to Hamden, Connecticut, where he spent a couple of years at Shepherd Glen Elementary School and Hamden Middle School. Johnson spent his high school years at President William McKinley High School in Honolulu, Hawaii, Glencliff High School and McGavock High School in Nashville, Tennessee, and Freedom High School in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

He was arrested multiple times for fighting, theft, and check fraud before the age of 17. Johnson also began playing sports, joining his high schools’ gridiron football, track and field and wrestling teams.

Johnson is half-Black (African-American) and half-Samoan. His father was a Black Canadian, from Nova Scotia, and part of the first Black tag team champions in WWE history along with Tony Atlas. His mother is Samoan and the adopted daughter of Peter Maivia, who was also a pro wrestler. Maivia’s wife, Lia, was the first female pro wrestling promoter, taking over Polynesian Pacific Pro Wrestling after her husband’s death in 1982, until 1988. Through his grandfather Maivia, Johnson is considered a non-blood relative to the Anoa’i wrestling family. In 2008, Johnson inducted his father and grandfather into the WWE Hall of Fame.

Johnson was a promising football prospect and received offers from many Division I collegiate programs. He decided on a full scholarship from the University of Miami where he mostly played defensive tackle. In 1991, he was on the Miami Hurricanes’ national championship team. After suffering a number of injuries, he was later replaced in the starting lineup by future Pro Football Hall of Famer Warren Sapp.

After Johnson graduated in 1995 with a Bachelor of General Studies in criminology and physiology, he signed with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League as a linebacker. He was assigned to the practice roster but was cut two months into the season.

Johnson’s first leading film role was in The Scorpion King (2002). He has since starred in a number of successful films, including The Game Plan (2007), Tooth Fairy (2010), Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012), G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013), Hercules (2014), San Andreas (2015), Central Intelligence (2016), Moana (2016), Rampage (2018), and Skyscraper (2018). His role as Luke Hobbs in the Fast & Furious series, beginning with Fast Five (2011), helped it become one of the highest-grossing film franchises. Johnson also stars in the Jumanji franchise, appearing in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017), and its sequel Jumanji: The Next Level (2019).

Johnson produced and starred in the HBO series Ballers (2015–2019), which ran for five seasons and was ranked as HBO’s most-watched comedy in six years. He has also attained success as a television host and autobiography author.

In 2000, he released the autobiography The Rock Says, a New York Times bestseller. In 2012, he founded the production company Seven Bucks Productions, which has produced several films and other entertainment projects.

He is the co-owner of the American football league, the XFL. 

In recognition of his service to the Samoan people, and because he is a descendant of Samoan chiefs, Johnson had the noble title of Seiuli bestowed upon him by Malietoa Tanumafili II during his visit there in July 2004. He received a partial Samoan pe’a tattoo on his left side in 2003, and, in 2017, had the small “Brahma bull” tattoo on his right arm covered with a larger half-sleeve tattoo of a bull’s skull. 

In February 2020, the WWE announced that Johnson’s daughter Simone had begun training at the WWE Performance Center, making her the first fourth-generation WWE Superstar. On May 16, Johnson announced she had signed a contract with WWE.

On September 2, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Johnson announced on Instagram that he, his wife, and their two daughters had all tested positive for COVID-19, which he said they contracted from family friends, but had made a full recovery.

In 2006, Johnson founded the Dwayne Johnson Rock Foundation, a charity working with at-risk and terminally ill children. On October 2, 2007, he and his ex-wife donated $1 million to the University of Miami to support the renovation of its football facilities. The University of Miami renamed the Hurricanes’ locker room in Johnson’s honor. In 2015, Johnson donated $1,500 to a GoFundMe to pay for an abandoned dog’s surgery. In 2017, he donated $25,000 to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. In 2018, Johnson donated a gym to a military base in Oahu, Hawaii. After the 2018 Hawaii floods, he worked with Malama Kauai, a nonprofit organization, to help repair damages caused by the floods. Johnson has also worked with Make-A-Wish Foundation on a number of occasions.