Former WWE wrestler, international movie star, and now, television’s latest leading man, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has lived one hell of a life. Before he asked crowds what he was cooking, he was just a teen, living in Hawaii, trying to survive high school and getting into trouble. He’d later turn his life around and become a top-recruited football player at the University of Miami before finally entering the wrestling ring at 23. And, well, the rest is history.
NBC’s new sitcom, Young Rock, executive-produced by the Rock, captures his journey from the former wrestler’s humble beginnings to his eventual run for president of the United States (a figment of the show, we promise). If you’ve been watching, you’ve likely wondered about his parents, Ata and Rocky, both of whom play central parts in the show.
Here’s what we know about them in real life.
Ata Johnson comes from a family of wrestlers
The Rock’s mother was no stranger to the ring. Ata’s father, Peter Maivia, was a pro wrestler who began his career in New Zealand, before entering the WWE (then, the WWF) during the ’70s. Ata’s mother, Lia Maivia, too was a wrestler and one of the first female wrestling promoters. Peter would end up training Rocky Johnson, Ata’s eventual husband and the Rock’s father.
Rocky wrestled with the National Wrestling Alliance beginning in the ’60s, and later, the WWE. According to the Rock, growing up with was tough for his family, his parents relying on the wrestling circuit for income. “We were living in an efficiency that cost $120 a week,” he told The Hollywood Reporter back in 2014. “We come home, and there’s a padlock on the door and an eviction notice. My mom starts bawling. She just started crying and breaking down.” Rocky would end up retiring in 1991, just a few years before the Rock himself would join the ring who was still playing football competitively with the NFL at the time.
Ata and Rocky would later divorce in 2003, almost a decade into the Rock’s WWE career.
Rocky Johnson passed in January 2020
The Rock’s father passed early last year from a heart attack. The Rock posted a video of the eulogy he’d given during the funeral on Instagram. “You trail blazed and even harder, you changed people’s harsh behaviors toward a man of color,” he captioned the post. “Paving the way for me, my family and generations to come.”
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