The wrestling world was saddened in January when news emerged of the passing of Rocky Johnson, a celebrated WWE Hall of Famer and the father of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. While speaking with Oprah Winfrey on her “2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus Tour,” the Hollywood A-lister opened up about his relationship with his dad and discussed how he’s been coping with the grieving process.
As quoted by 411 Mania, Johnson revealed that he and his father didn’t always have the best relationship. However, at the funeral, he did learn just how positive an impact the Hall of Famer had on those who knew him.
“I had a complicated relationship with my dad. It was really, there was a foundation of tough love with my father. [He] wasn’t a big ‘I love you’ guy, and as complicated as it was, what gave me great satisfaction at the funeral was to see he was a great friend to so many guys. A challenged father, but a great friend to so many people.”
Johnson also opened up about his regrets over not being able to say all of the things he wanted to tell his father before he passed away. According to the actor, he’s been feeling “guilty” because the two of them didn’t get to have an honest heart-to-heart when they still had time. Overall, though, Johnson is thankful for the time they did get to spend together.
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I love you. You broke color barriers, became a ring legend and trail blazed your way thru this world. I was the boy sitting in the seats, watching and adoring you, my hero from afar. The boy you raised to always be proud of our cultures and proud of who and what I am. The boy you raised with the toughest of love. The intense work. The hard hand. The adoring boy who wanted to know only your best qualities. Who then grew to become a man realizing you had other deeply complicated sides that needed to be held and understood. Son to father. Man to man. That’s when my adoration turned to respect. And my empathy turned to gratitude. Grateful that you gave me life. Grateful you gave me life’s invaluable lessons. Dad, I wish I had one more shot to tell you, I love you, before you crossed over to the other side. But you were ripped away from me so fast without warning. Gone in an instant and no coming back. Im in pain. But we both know it’s just pain and it’ll pass. Now I’ll carry your mana and work ethic with me, as it’s time to move on because I have my family to feed and work to accomplish. Finally, I want you to rest your trailblazing soul, Soulman. Pain free, regret free, satisfied and at ease. You lived a very full, very hard, barrier breaking life and left it all in the ring. I love you dad and I’ll always be your proud and grateful son. Go rest high. #ripsoulman #rockyjohnson ????
Winfrey also asked Johnson if he felt his father was proud of him. The actor said he believes his father was proud of his success, especially in regards to his own professional wrestling career. “The Rock” said his father gave his life to the wrestling industry, and seeing his son make a name for himself in the business he helped build was a big moment for him.
Johnson also discussed how his father was a “trailblazer,” as he was a successful black wrestler who wrestled in the South for most of his career. Back then, opportunities were rare for black athletes, and racism in the industry was still very prominent, but the Hall of Famer was still able to find success despite all of the obstacles in his way.
During the interview, Johnson revealed how his father never wanted him to become a wrestler because the business didn’t lead to financial stability for their family. However, Johnson still followed his heart and ended up becoming one of the biggest stars in WWE history.