IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

John Cena says that as a kid, he defended his gay older brother at school

"Life was tough for my brother in high school," recalled the actor and former WWE champ.
/ Source: TODAY

John Cena is opening up about defending his older brother Steve, who is gay, from bullies when they were kids.

The “Argyle” star and former WWE champion, 46, revealed on Dax Shepard’s “Armchair Expert” podcast that he and his four brothers grew up in a small Massachusetts town, where Steve faced hardships because of both his love of computers and his sexual orientation.

“Life was tough for my brother in high school. Not only was he an introvert and interested in computers, he’s also gay. And being gay in the 80s in a small town in Massachusetts, man, that’s an uphill climb,” recalled the actor.

Although Steve, now 50, wasn’t out of the closet in high school, he faced harsh behavior for being a “true nerd.”

“He just had a lot of character traits that weren’t in the ‘cool kid’ group, and he’s also holding this secret that he can’t tell or talk to anybody about,” recalled Cena.

“I really feel for what it must have been like for him growing up,” he added.

Though the “Barbie” star was a few years younger than Steve, he recalled feeling protective of him.

“That sort of behavior started, like, at 10 years old for me,” the actor explained. “I don’t think I understood what was going on. Kids are harsh and they form cliques real fast.”

The five Cena brothers lived “acres away” from other kids and mostly hung out with one another when they were kids.

“There was enough of us to have a basketball team, which means we could do whatever we wanted. We want to play football or baseball, there’s enough of us. We didn’t feel we needed anyone else,” recalled Cena.

At some point between ages 10 and 12, Cena entered other “social circles” and found himself wanting to stand up to bullies.

“I took on the role of, ‘Hey, if you say something to the younger brothers, I will do my best to throw myself in harm’s way,” he recalled.

During the conversation, Cena recalled that kids at school also picked on him for standing out. “I got made fun of for the way I dressed, the music I listened to, the people I associated with, my older brother,” he explained.

At age 12, Cena decided to start working out with weights, he said, “because I was getting my a-- kicked.”

By age 15, because of “constant strength training and eating right,” Cena had bulked up to be bigger than the seniors who used to bully him.

“I walked into physical education class with now seniors who were pushing me down the hill,” he said. “I remember specifically one kid who literally spearheaded the anti-John movement, I closed my locker door and he’s next to me and we were looking at each other like, ‘Is it gonna go down?’”

But instead of throwing hands, Cena says, he decided to de-escalate the situation.

“And for some reason — at 15 — I summoned up the situational awareness to be like, ‘Hey man, we’re good, don’t worry about it,’” he said. “And that was it. Not only did he never pick on me again, I never really got f’ed with again in high school.”

Cena added that he doesn’t carry the trauma of being bullied with him and regrets being a part of that culture.

“I never was like f--- ‘em,” he said, adding that he “never backed off.”

He said that the bullying at school didn’t faze him because he’d been “getting this s--- kicked out” of him his whole life by his brothers.

Cena has previously made headlines for his support of the LGBTQ community. In 2013, when approached by a TMZ reporter who questioned him about WWE star Darren Young coming out as the first out gay wrestler in the league, Cena was nothing but supportive.

“My oldest brother is openly gay and coming from a family of five boys, that’s extremely tough to admit that and he’s openly accepted by our family,” he explained. “I know Darren personally, Darren’s a great guy, that’s a very bold move for him and congratulations to him for actually doing it.”

When pressed by the reporter if Young’s announcement would “change” things in the locker room, Cena shut any insinuations down.

“Not at all,” he replied. “Darren Young is a consummate professional, I’m actually proud of him for (coming out).”