Rocky path to stardom

July 15, 2016

 Tough guys do cry. And suffer from depression.

Star of Central Intelligence (currently screening and co-starring Kevin Hart), the actor and semi-retired wrestling superstar Dwayne Johnson (aka The Rock) had an image as all-powerful guy who surely wouldn’t be prey to the worries and troubles of ordinary mortals.  

But underneath the buffed tough guy he showed to the world, Johnson had a chequered career on his climb to the top.

Johnson was once of the great professional wrestlers and top box office draws in wrestling history. He was the first African-American champion of the World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment (WWF/WWE) and had been WWE World Champion 10 times, and won six Triple Crowns.

But life wasn’t always this starry.

Johnson clearly remembers a low point in his life when, at 14, he found an eviction notice pinned on the family home, a week after his mother’s car was repossessed. Decades later, Johnson still remembers the feeling of devastation. 

Not that young Dwayne was an angel—he added to his mother’s woes by getting into fights and mixing with young thugs.

But seeing his mother’s desperation made him determined to do better. All the successful men young Johnson knew were men who built their bodies, so that was the path he took.

Four years later, his training program paid off with a full football scholarship to the University of Miami, where he graduated before being signed by the Canadian Football League’s Calgary Stampeders. But the success didn’t last—he was dropped from the team and suffered depression.

Abandoning football, he reluctantly decided to follow in the footsteps of his wrestler father and grandfather, which led to his own wrestling superstardom.

But depression was set to tag him along the way, and Johnson had to dig deep to find his path out of that and, when he dug, he found faith.

‘I had to put my faith in God and keep going,’ he told Oprah Winfrey’s Master Class series.

‘My faith and family kept me going. I have a special relationship with God and I count my blessings every day,’ he said.

Johnson’s advice to other depression sufferers comes straight from his own experience.

‘I found that with depression, one of the most important things is to realise is that you’re not alone. Have faith that on the other side of your pain is something good,’ he urges.

Johnson likes Christian rap music, and he is on YouTube performing ‘Peace in the Storm’, which includes the lyrics ‘God has given me gifts so I can be a blessing for someone else’—a sentiment with which few of us would argue.

Johnson has also always been generous in giving time to fans—he holds the Guinness World Record for the most ‘selfies’ in three minutes, taking 105 selfies with fans during the film premiere of San Andreas in London last year. 


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