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Sexiest Man Alive Dwayne Johnson Started Wrestling to Help His Homeless Grandmother

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In 1995, Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson wrote down four goals on a piece of paper. One of those objectives? Help his homeless grandmother find somewhere to live.

And he did — just not in the way he’d planned.

“She was actually homeless and she was living with another family for over a year,” the 2016 Sexiest Man Alive tells PEOPLE. “The family would call us and write letters, ‘Please you have to get your grandmother, you have to get your mom,’ but we couldn’t afford to.”

Johnson, 44, says he planned to get drafted into the NFL after graduating from the University of Miami that year. Unfortunately, he only made it into the Canadian Football League, and was cut from that after just two months.

Re-evaluating his life plan, Johnson decided to return to a sport he’d first started as a little boy in Hawaii: wrestling.

For more from this year’s Sexiest Man Alive — and to see who else made the cut — pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday

“My dad used to train me on wrestling mats when I was 5 or 6,” he tells PEOPLE.

Just one year after finishing college, Johnson won his first match in the WWE.

RELATED VIDEO: Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson on Making It Big in Hollywood: “There’s No Blueprint for a Half-samoan/Half Black Wrestler”


Although Johnson has become one of the biggest movie stars in Hollywood, he held on to his goals note over the years and now has it framed.

Watch the full episode of Sexiest Men in the Kitchen, streaming now on People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN). Go to PEOPLE.com/PEN, or download the app for Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Xumo, Chromecast, Xfinity, iOS and Android devices.

“When I look at that, I keep that as a great reminder,” he says. “And not only that, but we talked about failures: I did graduate, didn’t make it into the NFL, fixed my grandmother’s situation.”

Johnson adds, “Yeah, there were a lot of things I did and that I didn’t do.”