The “Skyscraper” star shared a video on Instagram featuring his dad being introduced at a WWE match that also included a young Dwayne sitting in the crowd.
“I love you,” Johnson wrote in the caption. “You broke color barriers, became a ring legend and trail blazed your way thru this world.”
Rocky Johnson — real name Wayde Bowles — began wrestling in the 1960s and, in 1983, would join the WWE (then called the WWF) before retiring in 1991.
“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 deep complex sides that needed to be held and understood,” Johnson continued.
The superstar, 47, who is a father to daughters Tiana, 1, and Jasmine, 4, with wife Lauren Hashian, as well as 18-year-old daughter Simone from his first marriage, then opened up about all that his dad taught him.
“Son to father. Man to man. That’s when my adoration turned to respect. And my empathy turned to gratitude,” he wrote. “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.”
Johnson, who inducted his dad into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008, made no bones about the grief he’s feeling over the loss of a parent.
“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,” he wrote. “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.”