Dwayne Johnson, 50, can undoubtedly attribute a lot of his current success to his childhood. The Red Notice star and successful producer is also famous for his former career as a pro wrestler. From his early days in college football to his rise to prominence with the WWF and on up to becoming one of the most highly paid actors in Hollywood, it’s clear that Dwayne’s mother Ata Johnson and father Rocky Johnson guided him towards a path to great success — even despite profound challenges growing up. Here’s everything you should know about them.
Ata Johnson (Maivia)
The beautiful and dynamic Ata Johnson was born Feagaimaleata Fitisemanu Maivia on October 25, 1948, in Hawaii to Dwayne’s grandfather Peter Fanene Maivia and Grandmother Lia Maivia. She is a part of the famous Samoan Anoaʻi wrestling family, as both her father and mother were wrestlers.
Ata had Dwayne May 2, 1972, but didn’t marry his father, wrestler Rocky Johnson, until December of 1978. The couple divorced in 2003 and she never remarried, but Dwayne has shared a lot about his mother and the struggles they faced when he was younger. On Mother’s Day in 2015, the Moana voice actor shared a sweet story about what they’d been through and where they are today. “Cool Mother’s Day story.. early am flight and I’m sittin’ across from my mom when out of the blue she looks around the plane, then looks at me and says ‘Son, I can’t believe the life I have.. grandma and grandpa would be so proud.’” he wrote via Instagram in a May 10, 2015 post.
“I asked her, ‘Are you happy ma?’. Just then the flight attendant placed my moms breakfast down on the table and my mom said to me, ‘Am I happy?.. I used to worry about how I was going to buy groceries for us and now I just had my breakfast placed down in front of me’. She bursts into tears and says ‘Yes, son I couldn’t be happier’. This is the woman who when I was 14yrs old we were evicted out of our apartment in Hawaii ’cause we couldn’t afford the $180 per week rent,” the caption continues. Dwayne’s post adds that she might “kill him” for posting the sweet accompanying pic of Ata crying, then says, “Happy Mother’s Day to my amazing mom who will no doubt kill me for posting this crying pic.” These days, Dwayne is often seen accompanying the graceful 73-year-old to red carpet events or posting on social media about her visits with Dwayne’s three daughters, Simone, Jasmine, and Tiana Johnson.
Dwayne’s father, the late Rocky Johnson, was best known for his formidable professional wrestling career — something that deeply affected Dwayne’s ambitions. Born Wade Douglas Bowles, Rocky had two children with his first wife, Una Johnson — brother Curtis Bowles and sister Wanda Bowles, so although we don’t know a lot about them, Dwayne does have a brother and a sister! Rocky was married to Una until 1978, when he married Ata Johnson — which means he was still technically married to Una when he welcomed Dwayne alongside Ata in 1972.
Rocky “Soulman” Johnson had a complicated relationship with Dwayne, but his career as a hall of fame wrestler certainly had an impact on his son. Born in Nova Scotia, Canada in 1944, Rocky began his career at the young age of 16 and was finally inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008. The Canadian boxer and wrestler was known for spirited rivalries with Don Muraco, Adrian Adonis and Greg “The Hammer” Valentine.
His name was an important part of his identity as a fighter — Rocky changed his given name from Wade as a tribute to boxing champs: Rocky Marciano and Jack Johnson, who is known for being the first black heavyweight boxing champion.
Sadly, Rocky Johnson passed away at the age of 72 on January 15, 2020 of pulmonary embolism. Dwayne shared his feelings on the sudden death a year and a half later in an emotional social media post. “My old man died so quick, I never had a shot to say goodbye or say thanks for all the lessons,” he wrote via Instagram on June 26, 2021. “Maybe I’ll see him down the road and thank him then. Til then let’s try and remember the good stuff about our lost loved ones – and if you guys had a complicated dynamic with your dad (or parent) like I did, well lets continue to work on that and trust the process along the way.”