This week, news broke that Rocky Johnson, Canadian professional wrestler and father of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, had passed away at the age of 75. On Friday, his son publicly addressed his death for the first time, writing a tribute to his father’s “trailblazing” spirit, which during his life had made Rocky one of the first two black WWE champions, alongside tag team partner Tony Atlas. Accompanying Johnson’s homage is a video of a teen Dwayne ringside, watching his father go to work.
“I love you. You broke color barriers, became a ring legend and trail blazed your way thru this world,” the actor and wrestler wrote on Instagram. “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 the 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.” You can read his full remembrance below.