Who Is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson?
Dwayne Johnson stands on the arm of a huge crane, hundreds of feet above a busy city street. In front of him, a skyscraper is on fire. He needs to get inside that burning building. His family is in there, held captive by armed villains.
Behind him, a group of men race to stop him. There is only one thing to do.
Bullets ping everywhere around him as Dwayne sprints toward the end of the crane. When he reaches it, he leaps, arms windmilling, legs churning in midair. He plummets toward his goal, an open window in the side of the building.
His powerful, muscular body smashes into the glass wall as his mighty hands grip the window ledge. Can he hold on?
He can! Dwayne climbs over broken glass to reach the inside of the building!
The director yells, “Cut!”
The scene in the movie Skyscraper was over. Dwayne stood up with a huge grin on his face. He had just filmed another amazing action—movie moment, one of dozens that have made him the biggest movie star on the planet. In more than twenty hugely popular films, Dwayne has used his oversize muscles—and a personality that is even bigger—to thrill and entertain fans.
A former pro wrestling star known as “The Rock,” Dwayne worked hard to become an actor. His inspiring story and constantly positive attitude have made him an international hero. More than 200 million people follow his Instagram feed, where he shares details of his life, and some of his wisdom, with the world. Dwayne believes “the road to success and greatness is always paved with hard work. Chase your greatness!” Chapter 1: Just Plain Dwayne
Dwayne Johnson was born in Hayward, California, on May 2, 1972. When Dwayne was a baby, he and his family moved often. By the time Dwayne was in kindergarten, he had lived in five different states! The family moved often because Dwayne’s father, Rocky, was a professional wrestler, and took his family with him as he traveled from event to event.
Rocky had met his wife, Ata, when he wrestled with her father, Peter Maivia, who was also a professional wrestler. Ata’s full name was Feagaimaleata Fitisemanu Maivia. Her family came from the Pacific islands of Samoa and Hawaii. Peter had won championships in Hawaii and in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), the biggest organization in the sport. The WWF put on events all over the United States, attracting huge audiences. WWF wrestlers were big personalities, great showmen and women, and powerful athletes. They were also entertainers.
When Dwayne was about nine, the family lived in Hawaii, where Rocky wrestled and Ata was able to spend time with her father and her large Samoan family. Dwayne learned a lot about his heritage on the island. He saw his grandfather’s large Samoan tattoos. He also watched the respect that Peter Maivia had in the wrestling community. Peter died of cancer in 1982, and Dwayne was among thousands who attended his grandfather’s funeral.
Rocky’s career kept the family moving from place to place. Before he reached high school, the Johnson family had lived in fourteen states. It was difficult for Dwayne to change schools so often, as he was always having to find new friends. Fitting into a new place over and over was difficult. Dwayne was friendly and outgoing, but he was also very big, which made him stand out even more. He was well over six feet tall in junior high, and was very strong like Rocky. In many of his new schools, other big students wanted to challenge him. “I was always the new kid, so that made me a target,” he says.
During a period when the family was back in Hawaii, Dwayne got in real trouble. He and some other teenagers were caught stealing. He was arrested several times. “It was when I was in the ninth grade. I was doing stupid stuff and the cops came into the class [to arrest me]. I was humiliated more than anything.”
Dwayne and his parents left Hawaii again not long after, and settled in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, for Dwayne’s second year in high school. Not long after he arrived, Dwayne was caught by a teacher named Jody Cwik using the bathroom in the teacher’s lounge. Dwayne later said, “That was the day that changed everything.” Mr. Cwik was the school’s football coach. After Dwayne apologized the next day, Mr. Cwik asked him to join the football team.
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