Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson used one of his moments in the spotlight at the People's Choice Awards to shed some light on someone who deserved it: a Make-A-Wish survivor.
Johnson explained that during his professional wrestling days, he'd started calling himself "The People's Champion," knowing that it was boxing legend Muhammad Ali's nickname originally. Johnson said Ali had approved of him using the moniker.
"The last time I saw Muhammad, we were at a Make-A-Wish event and we were both granting wishes," Johnson recalled. "His last words to me were 'You keep rumbling.' I was like 'OK, thank you, champ.'"
In the years since Ali's death in 2016, Johnson said he has continued to volunteer with the non-profit organization.
“What it means to be the people’s champion, champion of the people, is you treat people good,” Johnson explained. “You treat people kind and you take care of people. You’re inclusive of people, all people, all colors, doesn’t matter.”
“I met her earlier. I told her how inspired I was by her story. She is a survivor. She has fought literally for her life,” he said. “She has inspired her family, her friends, now you guys here, now the world that is watching.”
The teen girl was surprised by the actor's gesture and said into the microphone she hadn't been expecting it "at all."
“This is crazy. Thank you so much to you and to Make-a-Wish," she said as Johnson handed her his award.
"You represent everything that it means to be a people’s champion,” he told her.
Johnson concluded his speech with a phrase he said he first heard at the age of 15 and it stuck with him:
“It’s nice to be important but it’s more important to be nice.”
It was a big night for Johnson, who earlier in the night was also named Comedy Movie Star of 2021 and Male Movie Star of 2021.
The People’s Champion award is for his contributions to the entertainment industry, entrepreneurial endeavors and commitment to supporting children and families in need through multiple philanthropic partnerships.