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Entertainment & Arts

In moving tribute, Dwayne Johnson remembers his father’s ‘barrier breaking life’

Dwayne Johnson
“I love you,” Dwayne Johnson wrote Friday in a tribute to his late father, Rocky Johnson.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Dwayne Johnson is “in pain” after the passing of his father, wrestler Rocky Johnson, who died Wednesday at age 75.

The actor revealed that in a long tribute to his dad posted Friday on Instagram, in which he remembered Rocky’s “barrier breaking life” as half of the “Soul Patrol,” the first black tag-team in professional wrestling.

“I was the boy sitting in the seats, watching and adoring you, my hero from afar,” Dwayne Johnson wrote in his caption on a video that showed him in the audience as his father took the ring. “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,” he continued.

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Rocky “Soulman” Johnson, who was born in Canada, died at home in Florida, according to the Associated Press.

“He was just under the weather, he thought he had the flu or something,” former pro wrestler Brian Blair told the AP by phone. Johnson had missed a trip to church Sunday with Blair and other ex-wrestler friends. Days later, he was gone.

“Dad, I wish I had one more shot to tell you, I love you, before you crossed over to the other side,” his son — who took the nickname “the Rock” after being trained by his father — wrote in his tribute. “But you were ripped away from me so fast without warning. Gone in an instant and no coming back.

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“I’m in pain. But we both know it’s just pain and it’ll pass,” Johnson said. “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.”

Kevin Hart, Mark Walhberg, ASAP Rocky, Lindsey Vonn, J.J. Watt, D.L. Hughley, Chris Tucker, Mario Lopez, Martin Lawrence and Terry Crews were among those offering their condolences online.

“You lived a very full, very hard, barrier breaking life and left it all in the ring,” Johnson said in closing. “I love you dad and I’ll always be your proud and grateful son. Go rest high.”

View this post on Instagram

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 🐐

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