Don’t you just love Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson? (Feels stupid to write his whole name out like that, but I can’t leave out “The Rock”.) He just seems so hilarious and down-to-earth and like such a genuinely nice guy that I can’t help but root for him. He’s also real as hell, as proven by his willingness to open up to The Hollywood Reporter about the rough life he came from and his battle with depression because of it.
This is the same guy who endured massive upheaval as a child; got into frequent trouble with the law as a teenager; was kicked out of his home at 14; and faced the end of everything he had dreamed about when he was dumped as a professional football player, sending him into a crippling tailspin of despair.
“I didn’t want to do a thing,” he recalls. “I didn’t want to go anywhere. I was crying constantly. Eventually you reach a point where you are all cried out.”
Sitting in the cavernous living room of his rented house a few hours after our workout, wearing a hoodie that has his hero Muhammad Ali’s name scrawled across it, Johnson shows no trace of his turbulent past.
He describes his current life with a sophistication not always apparent onscreen, laughing readily and infectiously. But his past is never too far from his mind. “I remember it as if it were yesterday,” he says.
At 18, he won a full football scholarship to the University of Miami and was ecstatic when he was the only freshman chosen to play, a rarity in college football. He was in love with the game and even dabbled in steroids, thinking that might help, though only for a while, as he didn’t see the desired effect. “I tried them when I was 18, me and my football buddies. Nothing happened,” he says.
Then, in his freshman year, he sustained the first of several serious injuries: “My shoulder popped out of its socket and was just hanging there.” It sent him plummeting into his first of three depressions. “I didn’t know what it was,” he says. “I didn’t know why I didn’t want to do anything. I had never experienced anything like that.”
He dropped out of school without even taking his midterms and went to stay with his parents in Tampa. For weeks, he remained there, his shoulder in a sling, lethargic and unable to break out of his despair, until his coach called.
“He says, ‘Get your ass in a car and come back right now,’ ” remembers Johnson. “He was so embarrassed and pissed. It’s one thing when you go through an injury and depression. It’s another when you walk away and say, ‘F— it.’ “
There’s a lot more to the story that’d be too long to print, but the whole thing is worth a read. He’s been through a lot, and still managed to come back fighting and do something for himself, make something of himself. Good for him, man.