Dwayne Johnson Thanks Mom for Inspiring Him to Change His Troubled Life

Dwayne Johnson Reflects on How His Mom Inspired His Success After Being Constantly Arrested
Dwayne Johnson with his mother Ata Johnson. Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Netflix

Dwayne Johnson is thanking his mother for helping him turn his life around from the days when he was a troubled teen constantly getting arrested.

Johnson, 51, is one of the highest grossing actors of all time and is regarded as one of the greatest professional wrestlers. However, as a teenager attending Freedom High School in Bethlehem Township, Pennsylvania, his future seemed bleak. He was arrested several times for theft and check fraud, and was suspended two weeks for fighting.

The Fast Five actor says the key to his transformation was the love of his mother, Ata Johnson.

“My mom has always been there, always my biggest fan,” Dwayne told People in an interview published Wednesday, April 10. “Even when I was a punk kid in high school, getting in trouble, getting arrested, she’d say, ‘I feel like the world will hear from you one day.’ This is as she’s picking me up from the police station! The love was boundless. The support was boundless.”

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Dwayne also reflected on the advice he would have given himself during his turbulent youth.

“I would say to that kid from years ago: ‘Listen, you’re stealing Snickers every single day before the gym. One day you’re not going to be an asshole. Go back to the 7-Eleven in Hawaii and buy all the Snickers, pay for them, and leave them there for other people,’” he said, laughing.

In addition to the guidance from his mother, the Jumanji star leaned on sports to leave his life of petty crime. He was a member of Freedom High School’s football, track and field and wrestling teams.

Dwayne Johnson Reflects on How His Mom Inspired His Success After Being Constantly Arrested
Dwayne Johnson with his mother Ata Johnson. Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

Dwayne pursued a pro football career in Canada, but after being cut from the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League, he turned to wrestling.

He told People he knew he was on the right path when he competed for the first time in New York City in 1996.

“When I was wrestling, I didn’t start in the big bright lights of WWE,” he recalled. “I wrestled down in Tennessee, a company called the USWA. I made my bones down there, wrestling for 40 bucks a match, in barns, flea markets, etc.”

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“I got my big call-up, and my first match as a WWE superstar was in Madison Square Garden. I was a rookie,” the action star continued. “They pulled me aside about an hour before I was going out, and said, ‘Hey kid, you’re going to win tonight. Sink or swim, it’s the Garden, it’s New York, and if you could pull this off, we feel like you have a shot, and we have a shot.’ So that night I went out, and by the end of the match, there were 22,000 people all chanting my name. I just knew that my mom and dad, who are watching at home in Tampa, were bawling. It was just a really special moment.”

Another special moment for Dwayne was celebrating his mother’s 75th birthday in October 2023. He posted an Instagram video of his mom playing a ukelele as they performed a special birthday song together.

“HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!!,” he captioned his post. “75 years of experience, wisdom, hard times, good times, laughter, mana, and yet thru it all — you TRULY have the KINDEST HEART I have ever known ❤💫 I feel like the luckiest son on earth.”