Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Athlete, Actor, Personality, Entrepreneur. Unless you’ve been living under a rock (pun intended) the last 10 years, you’ve most likely seen or heard The Rock in some form or fashion. Today, he’s one of the most recognizable action figures on the planet starring in roles in multiple box office giants like The Fast and Furious franchise, San Andreas or his HBO series Ballers. Dwayne seems to be on his way to becoming THE action star in Hollywood.
However, life wasn’t always private jets, red carpet premiers and paychecks. Johnson’s story starts from nearly the complete opposite end of the spectrum from where he’s at today.
Growing up as the son of professional wrestler, Rocky Johnson, Dwayne was exposed to WWF wrestling circles early on but his first love was football. The Rock, then just Dwayne Johnson, went to University of Miami where he played Defensive Tackle and was apart of the 1991 National Championship team.
As many other players from that ’91 team, Johnson had dreams of playing in the NFL and had it not been for injuries to his shoulders and back, many think The Rock would have had great success in the NFL.
The picture above was taken during the 1995 training camp for the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders. Unfortunately, like many others who pursue football at the professional level, Johnson was cut after only a few weeks and hit a low point.
“The dreams I had, they’re dashed,” he recalled later. “There is no more football. My relationship was crushed. That was my absolute worst time.”
– Business Insider
When I first saw his Instagram post, it hit close to home. Having recently gotten back from my own attempt at the CFL, The Rock’s feelings were familiar and I empathize with his experience and that feeling of hitting rock bottom.
It’s common in the world of athletics for athletes to feel lost once their playing days are behind them. You’ve worked so hard to get to a certain point and many times, success is right at your fingertips, but still so far away. Many times, with your dreams crushed and no plan, athletes can fall into a negative place that’s extremely challenging to pull yourself out of. Dwayne had other plans.
“It was a monumental moment for me, because it was then that I decided I could either continue to wallow in depression or pick myself up and forge ahead.”
– Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
And that’s where it all began. After leaving the CFL, Dwayne decided to join the family business and pursue a career in pro wrestling. The first ever 3rd generation WWE history, Dwayne’s persona, The Rock, quickly became a wrestling icon. Today, The Rock is considered one of the best to enter the ring.
In 2001, Johnson made his big screen debut in the Mummy Returns. In the last 15 years, his already established wrestling fan based has exploded. He’s made the transition from WWF superstar to Hollywood action star. In 2015, The Rock raked in more than $64 million, landing him the #19 spot on Forbes highest paid actors list.
I guess he was able to pick himself back up after all.
The Rock is the epitome of hard work. His work ethic and dedication have allowed him to achieve stardom in multiple arenas but also transition gracefully into many new ventures.
In the end, it’s people like The Rock that are inspiring. The people that when faced with tremendous downfalls that bounce back even higher and move onto bigger and better things.
Dwayne has proven that when you fall, it’s up to you to pick yourself up and move forward. No matter what hardships you face, you have a choice everyday. You can stay put and suffer, or you can pick yourself up, wipe the dirt from your face and trudge on.
The Rock embraced the Grind during his toughest moment and from that a star was born. We’ve all been there and more than likely, rock bottom will come again. But just remember, greatness is not achieved when things are going well. Greatness is achieved when adversity strikes and you shift gears to a level you’ve never been before.
Greatness lives in all of us. I challenge you to find your greatness, even at your lowest point.