CORAL GABLES (CBS4) – For years, the professional wrestling world has smelled what he’s been cooking and he’s also run roughshod over Hollywood. He’s been a heavyweight champion in wrestling and has become a box office heavy hitter as well and now Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has added a very special award from his alma mater to his collection.
Johnson was recognized by the UM Alumni Association with the Edward T. Foote, II Alumnus of distinction award during an awards ceremony at the UM campus in Coral Gables Thursday night.
The awards program seeks out alumni who have been successful in their field or have made a significant impact through community service. The biennial alumni awards also recognize individuals and groups who have been actively involved with the University or Alumni Association throughout the year.
The “Alumnus of Distinction” is the highest honor that a UM graduate can receive for personal and professional achievements that bring honor to the university.
The Rock happens to be quite the philanthropist and continues to support the University of Miami. He has generously donated to the UM’s Alumni Center and the Football Facilities renovation fund. It was noted as the largest donation ever given to the university’s athletics department by former students. The University of Miami renamed the Hurricanes’ locker room in Johnson’s honor.
“It’s important to give back because Miami has made me into the Man I am today…taught me about hard work, discipline and sacrifice, but most importantly how to lose graciously and win graciously and humbly” said Johnson. So I went from that kid…to receiving this award,”
Still, it wasn’t always easy for The Rock either in college of the WWE.
“I had a challenging time staying on the right path, it was tough for me, I just had surgery…I got injured on the football field and I was placed on academic probation” is how Johnson described his freshman year at UM.
Even when the Rock got to the WWE, he struggled at first finding a niche. Then, the Rock personality began to show through and he exploded onto the scene during the WWE’s Attitude Era.
To this day, Johnson is still one of the most popular characters in WWE history. He just headlined a second-straight Wrestlemania earlier this month, falling to John Cena in the main event.
“I come from a family of wrestlers, my father and my grandfather. There’s a cool lineage there,” Johnson said. “But after that I wanted to grow and have a career and I wanted to act, but I wanted to become a good actor with a diverse filmography, work with great directors and make good movies.”
Johnson worked during his WWE career to become an actor and has since made multiple box office blockbusters including the Scorpion King and Pain & Gain, his latest movie.