“Dad, I wish I had one more shot to tell you, I love you, before you crossed over to the other side,” Johnson, 47, said in a moving tribute on Instagram Friday. “But you were ripped away from me so fast without warning. Gone in an instant and no coming back. Im in pain. But we know it’s just pain and it’ll pass.”
Rocky, a former professional wrestler, died at the age of 75 earlier this week.
World Wrestling Entertainment confirmed the news on their website, writing, “WWE is saddened to learn that Rocky ‘Soul Man’ Johnson (born Wayde Douglas Bowles), a WWE Hall of Famer, former World Tag Team Champion, and father of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, has passed away at age 75.”
Rocky was born in Nova Scotia, Canada as Wayde Douglas Bowles and began wrestling at the age of 16.
He joined the WWE in 1983 and began wrestling with Tony Atlas. The two became a part of the first African American tag team — known as The Soul Patrol — to win the World Tag Team Championship in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF).
He retired in 1991, but went on to train his son Dwayne to become a wrestler. In June 2018, Dwayne paid tribute to his father on Instagram and thanking him for teaching him how to be a father to his own three daughters.
“Happy Father’s Day to this hardly ever smiling OG badass. Little boys by nature, look up to and idolize their old man. They want to be just like em, do whatever they do and are always looking for their approval. Funny thing is the day I stopped looking for that approval was the day I understood what it meant to be man and more importantly, a father,” Dwayne wrote.
“That shift lifted me to a new level of gratitude for the tough love he always gave. Years later as a man and father of three girls, I know that tough love, is a helluva lot better than no love at all. I’ll take it. It’s made me who I am today. Grateful to the original Rock. #HappyFathersDay #KingStache #RockyJohnson,” he concluded.
Rocky was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008. He married Ata Maivia in 1970, and the two welcomed their son, Dwayne, in 1972, before later divorcing in 2003.
In Dwayne’s first acting job, he portrayed his father in a 1999 episode of That ‘70s Show titled “That Wrestling Show.”