Speaking in a new tell-all interview, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has opened up about shoplifting as a teenager and what led him to turn his life around.
While The Rock may now be one of the most famous wrestlers in history and one of the biggest movie stars in the world, his life was once very different.
Born into a wrestling family, his father was Rocky Johnson, while his grandfather was “High Chief” Peter Maivia. However, life as a wrestlers son wasn’t as glamorous as it can be today, with Johnson and his mother famously coming home to an eviction notice pinned to the front door of their Hawaii apartment when he was just 14.
Shortly after this incident, Johnson was sent to Nashville, Tennessee to live with his father. Although, he instead ended up moving into a motel with one of his dad’s friends Bruno Lauer. Better known as Harvey Wippleman.
In conversation with Vanity Fair, Johnson recalled this period of his life, revealing that he put into practice the stealing skills he’d honed while living in Hawaii.
“I just didn’t want to wear the same old shorts and T-shirt and flip-flops every day”—though he would also lift a king-size Snickers from the same 7-Eleven every day between 4 and 4:30 in the afternoon as he walked the three or four miles to the gym. Just breezed in, breezed out, without buying anything else. “They had to have known,” he now reflects.”
Wippleman confirmed that the would-be star was a skilled thief, explaining how he had a knack for laying his hands on whatever they needed.
“He’ll tell you himself—he was a thief,”
‘Bruno, you want some cigarettes? I got you a quart of beer. I got us some hot dogs, some this, some that…. I got me a radio….’ ” Johnson would pretend that people had given him the stuff for free because they were fans of Lauer or of his father, but of course Lauer knew the truth. “Hell, back then I didn’t have any morals either,” Lauer says. “I was benefiting too!”
After witnessing the marital troubles between his parents close-up the the family moved to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Here Johnson was arrested for stealing clothes. It was at this point he says he realised things had to change.
“I started caring that night. I’ll never forget it. I’ll never forget going to bed going, ‘Of all the shit my mom has been through and that I have been right there watching and witnessing, now I am compounding it with my dumb-ass decisions.’”
After being cut from the Canadian Football League, The Rock signed with WWE in 1996. After debuting at Survivor Series later that year, The Great One rose up the WWE ladder, despite initial resistance from fans.
The Rock would later star as a member of the Nation of Domination before winning his first WWE Title in 1998.
After leaving the ring full time in 2003, The Rock made a name for himself in Hollywood, breaking into superstardom with his role in The Fast And The Furious franchise which soon spun out to a Hobbs and Shaw franchise starring Johnson and Jason Statham in the lead roles.
In 2021 Johnson starred with Emily Blunt in the hugely successful Jungle Cruise as his star continues to shine as Hollywood’s leading man.
The Rock recently ventured into new territory making his debut as a rapper alongside Tech N9ne on the track Face Off.