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Chris Rock recently explained why he's avoided confrontation after childhood fight

The comedian says an incident in his youth made him "so scared" of his own anger.
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Chris Rock may or may not choose to speak publicly about the dramatic moment everyone is still talking about from the Oscars on Sunday — when Will Smith came on stage and hit him on the face after Rock cracked a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

It was a shocking moment in Oscars history.Robyn Beck / AFP via Getty Images

While Rock has yet to comment publicly, the incident is calling fresh attention to comments Rock made recently about how a childhood altercation made him wary of confrontation.

“In my childhood, I was bullied ridiculously,” he said in January on the “Fly on the Wall with Dana Carvey and David Spade” podcast. “Half of the bullying was because I was just a little guy. And then I got bussed to school, so I was a little guy and I was Black.”

Rock, 57, said the “rough” bullying gave him a “weird temper,” and shared one anecdote about a violent incident from his youth.

“One day a guy really disrespected me really bad, like mushed me at a party … and pushed me and kind of, like, kicked sand on my face in front of girls,” he said.

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Rock said he went home and put a brick in a book bag, then came back to the party and swung it in the face of the guy who was bullying him. The guy was seriously injured “to the point we thought he might die,” Rock said.

“Long story short, from that day on, as my shrink puts it to me, ‘You have been scared to be angry ever since,’” he continued. “I was so scared of my anger.”

He also said he learned through therapy that he was so afraid of letting out his angry feelings that he “let the whole world walk over” him.

“‘Your friends walk over you, your family walks over, your female relationships … because it’s somewhere in there, they know there’s a force there holding you back,’” Rock recalls his therapist saying. 

Recently, however, the comedian says he has been making progress on expressing his feelings constructively. In 2020, Rock said that he has been attending seven hours of therapy a week, where he's worked on his emotions and a nonverbal learning disorder diagnosis.

“In the last year, now I can get angry. I’m not scared of letting people know how I feel about certain things,” he said. “So now, I can tell you, ‘Hey, I didn’t like what you said to me … without losing my head.’”

The day after the Oscars, Smith shared an apology for the incident on Instagram.

“I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris,” he wrote, in part. “I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness.”