Rocky Johnson died Wednesday, almost 40 years after making his WWE debut. He was 75

By Ale Russian
January 16, 2020 06:41 PM

Two years before his dad’s death at 75, Dwayne Johnson paid tribute to the man who shaped him with a sentimental Father’s Day post.

Dwayne, 47, shared a sweet throwback picture of him and his dad Rocky Johnson flexing when the actor was a young boy in June 2018, explaining how his tough love shaped him as a man and a father. Rocky, a former WWE Hall of Fame wrestler, died Wednesday at 75.

“Happy Father’s Day to this hardly ever smiling OG badass. Little boys by nature, look up to and idolize their old man. They want to be just like em, do whatever they do and are always looking for their approval. Funny thing is the day I stopped looking for that approval was the day I understood what it meant to be man and more importantly, a father,” Johnson said.

“That shift lifted me to a new level of gratitude for the tough love he always gave. Years later as a man and father of three girls, I know that tough love, is a helluva lot better than no love at all. I’ll take it. It’s made me who I am today. Grateful to the original Rock. #HappyFathersDay #KingStache #RockyJohnson,” he concluded.

Dwayne and Rocky Johnson
| Credit: Jim Smeal/BEI/Shutterstock

In another Instagram post two years earlier, Johnson gave insight into his dad’s difficult upbringing in Canada and how that made him the toughest guy he knew.

Describing his dad as a “minimalist” who “never asks me for much,” Johnson went on to tell an incredible and sad story from his dad’s past. “Crazy story, my dad’s dad died when he was 13yrs old. That Christmas, my dad’s mom had her new boyfriend over for Christmas dinner. Her boyfriend got drunk and pissed on the turkey,” Johnson revealed.

“My dad went outside, got a shovel, drew a line in the snow and said if you cross that line I’ll kill you. The drunk crossed it and my dad laid him out cold as a block of ice,” he continued.

When the cops arrived, Johnson said his mother was given an ultimatum: either her son stays, or the new boyfriend stays. “In front of the entire family, my dad’s mom looked at him and said get out. He was 13yrs old and now homeless.”

The incident happened in Amherst, Nova Scotia, Canada in 1954, according to Johnson, who wrote of his father, “He needed the bare minimum then, just like does now. I always think about that story and my dad having every odd stacked against him at 13, but he fought though it and still made something of himself.”

His dad’s toughness wasn’t always easy for Johnson to handle as a kid. When they trained together, he said his dad often told him, “If you’re gonna throw up, go outside. And if you’re gonna cry, then go home to your mother.”

While he said he “hated it” growing up, he now embraces the tough love. “Made a man outta me. Without pissing on my turkey,” he joked.