Despite being a third-generation WWE star and one of the world’s highest-grossing actors, Dwayne Johnson didn’t have the easiest start in life. At one point, he had no place to go, until one man swooped in to help out the troubled teen. Decades later, “The Rock” hasn’t forgotten how much of his success is thanks to the person who took him in all those years ago. Read on to see how that man changed Dwayne’s life, and what the superstar did to show his gratitude.
Catching Up With An Old Friend
As one of the greatest pro wrestlers of all time, and a major Hollywood movie star, Dwayne Johnson has a huge online following. So when he posted a video of himself catching up with an old friend, his social media followers were quick to check it out.
On Facebook Watch, the video was simply titled “Surprise for Bruno,” begging many to ask themselves, “Who’s Bruno?” It turns out, Dwayne had asked himself that same question decades ago, and the answer would change his life.
The man Dwayne was so affectionately greeting was Bruno Lauer, more popularly known by his ring names Harvey Wippleman and Downtown Bruno. His wrestling career started in the ’80s and has lasted for decades.
Bruno has managed many wrestlers, including Sid Justice, Giant Gonzalez, Kamala, and Bertha Faye. In the ’90s, he stepped into the limelight as a WWE referee. Before that happened, though, not even Dwayne Johnson knew the guy. Still, Bruno stepped in to make a major impact on The Rock’s life.
Dwayne Explained Their Story
As the video goes on, Dwayne begins explaining what Bruno means to him. Though the referee is only seven years older than The Rock, he made a huge difference in the wrestler’s life.
If it weren’t for Bruno, not even Dwayne knows where he would be in life. That’s because their story goes all the way back to the year 1987, when the future superstar was just a teenager. As Dwayne reveals, his life wasn’t always so glamorous.
The Son Of WWE Star Rocky Johnson
Given Dwayne’s muscular build, it seems only natural that he would have risen to fame under the name “The Rock.” While his stature played a role in choosing that nickname, it also is a tribute to his father’s WWE name: Rocky Johnson.
Since his father and grandfather were both wrestlers, The Rock grew up wrestling. His father taught him some moves that would eventually help Dwayne rise up to superstardom. Still, having a wrestling father wasn’t always the easiest.
An Uprooted Childhood
When Dwayne was young, he lived with his mother’s family in New Zealand. He eventually moved to the United States, but he ended up living in dozens of states on account of his father’s career.
Though being the son of Rocky Johnson meant a lot of moving, it also motivated Dwayne to become athletic. He started training with his dad at the age of 13, and by the time he was in high school, he could intimidate even the teachers.
Struggles In Hawaii
As a teen, Dwayne lived in Hawaii with his mom and attended President William McKinley High School in Honolulu. By this time, the teenager’s mischievous ways coupled with his wrestling skills made him a bit much to handle.
To top it off, Dwayne’s mother was struggling financially. When they got evicted, Dwayne left Hawaii to return to the mainland to live with his father. It was there that he discovered some news that would change his plans.
Arriving In Nashville
Dwayne arrived in Nashville ready and expecting to get picked up by his dad at the airport. It wasn’t until his plane landed that he discovered he wouldn’t be going home with his dad after all.
As Dwayne explained in his chat with Bruno, he got picked up by a guy he’d never met “in his life.” He found out that plans had been altered so that he’d instead be living with Bruno. To which Dwayne replied, “Bruno?”
Fortunately for Dwayne, Bruno was already in the WWE industry. At the same time, he was still relatively new. Though Bruno was an adult and old enough to take care of the 15-year-old Dwayne, he was only 22-years-old at the time.
Considering how young Bruno himself was, it’s no surprise that the guy was living in a small room at the Alamo Plaza motel. Though Dwayne was initially unsure about Bruno, he would go on to treasure to selfless man.
Not The Easiest Kid To Handle
With all their hormonal changes, teenagers can be challenging to handle. That was certainly the case with Dwayne, who had challenges in school that continued in the absence of his parents.
While attending McGavock High School in Nashville, Tennessee, Dwayne became engaged in fights, theft, and fraud. As a result, he was arrested numerous times before even turning 17-years-old. Though he had a hard time adjusting, Bruno didn’t give up on him, providing him a place to call home regardless.
Channeling His Angst Into Sports
Though Dwayne got into trouble as a teenager, he also found a healthier way of dealing with his angst: sports. He joined his school’s football team and also did track and field as well as wrestling.
Wrestling seemed like an obvious choice for Dwayne since his father was already famous in the field as Rocky Johnson. Dwayne’s maternal grandfather also happened to be pro wrestler Peter Maivia and his maternal grandmother was the first female pro wrestling promoter.
He Landed A Full Ride To The University Of Miami
Despite the fact that Dwayne comes from a wrestling family on both sides, he ended up pursuing football first. His athletic abilities landed Dwayne a full scholarship to the University of Miami, where he predominantly played defensive tackle.
Having made it through high school and now entering a university on a full-ride, it seemed Bruno’s work here was done. Thanks to Bruno, Dwayne was able to get through his rocky teen years and could now leave the nest.
Though it seemed Dwayne’s days crashing at Bruno’s were over, that all changed when he realized that football wasn’t in the cards long-term. Dwayne graduated from university with a Bachelor of General Studies in criminology and physiology.
He headed to Canada and signed with the Calgary Stampeders as a linebacker, but ended up being cut two months after the season started. Dwayne knew it was time for a career change, which meant he, once again, needed a place to stay.
Back To Bruno
While Dwayne was away at college, Bruno had been building his managing career. In 1991, Bruno entered the World Wrestling Foundation where he first managed Big Bully Busick. He spent the next few years managing professionals like Adam Bomb and Well Dunn.
Around the time Bruno shifted to becoming a referee, Dwayne showed up on his doorstep. Eager to start a wrestling career in Memphis, Dwayne needed a place to stay. As always, Bruno was happy to take him in.
Signing With The World Wrestling Foundation
By 1996, Dwayne had landed some tryout matches for the World Wrestling Foundation, which he got signed to that summer. Dwayne went by Rocky Maivia when he made his WWF debut because it was a combination of his wrestling father and grandfathers’ names.
Over time, his name evolved to become “The Rock,” which has stuck ever since. By the end of the century, Dwayne was a bonified superstar, and eventually went down as one of the greatest wrestlers of all time.
Breaking Into The Film Industry
Dwayne’s wrestling stardom made for an easier transition into the world of Hollywood. Since he was already a familiar face and had acting talent, Dwayne was able to land roles in major productions like The Mummy Returns and Doom.
The movie star has come full circle since being booted out of Hawaii all those years ago. He is even set to portray the title character in The King, a film about the founder and first ruler of the Kingdom of Hawai’i.
An Unnoticed Surprise
As Dwayne was relaying his and Bruno’s story, the lifelong friend had no idea that there was a surprise that had pulled up right behind him. It was as though Bruno was so invested in Dwayne’s words that he didn’t realize something was going on in the background.
The famous wrestler owes a lot to his dear friend, who helped him out in a major way not once, but twice. That’s why Dwayne wanted to do something special for Bruno.
The Big Reveal
Dwayne told Bruno, “I can’t thank you enough for when I was 15, and you had every right to say, ‘I don’t know this kid. I don’t want him to live with me.’ And you took me in.”
The superstar went on to acknowledge that Bruno “changed the course of my life.” After giving Bruno a well-deserved thank you, Dwayne gestured to the truck now parked behind them. He informed his friend that the car was now his.
The Special Meaning Behind The Gift
Bruno couldn’t believe his eyes. He was practically speechless as he took in the massive gift that Dwayne was giving him. The best part is that there was significance behind the present.
It turned out that Bruno had given Dwayne $40 when he was a teenager to help him buy a cheap car. The friends laughed as they recalled the wild story before Dwayne revealed his gift to Bruno. The truck served as a symbol of their friendship.
Their Love Runs Deep
As Dwayne opened the door to guide Bruno into his new truck, the appreciative man said, “Are you serious?” Despite all he had done for Dwayne, he still couldn’t believe that the now-millionaire had bought him a $30,000 Ford F150.
As Bruno sat in the driver’s seat, he wiped away tears and said, “Like I told you earlier, there’s only about five people in the world I would die for and you’re one of them.”
Bonded For Life
Bruno’s humility was truly inspiring. Instead of being jealous of The Rock’s success or feeling entitled after helping him, he had nothing but love and appreciation for the pro wrestler.
He tearfully told Dwayne, “Nobody’s ever done for me anything like this before.” He went on to say, “I love you, man. Not ’cause of this, ’cause of who you are.” Bruno and Dwayne’s early adventures together will be featured on the sitcom Young Rock.
Who Is Walter Carr?
Walter Carr was a 20-year-old college student from Homewood, Alabama, with hopes of becoming a Marine. He ended up in Homewood with his mom after they lost their home to Hurricane Katrina.
As a young man in college, he didn’t have a ton of money, and his job at the time didn’t help with that. He quit the fast-food business and found new employment with a moving company called Bellhops. The pay was higher, and Carr gained more flexibility with his hours, allowing him to focus on his studies a bit more.
First Day, No Way
Sometimes, life hits you unexpectedly. A day before Carr began his new job, his 2003 Nissan Altima broke down! Carr was about to run some errands when he went to start his Altima, and he couldn’t get it going.
With little money to his name, he couldn’t take it to the mechanic, so his options were slim. None of his friends were available to take him either. After asking several people, including his girlfriend, Carr gave up on finding a ride.
Beginning To Panic
After none of his ideas panned out, Carr’s mind began racing. There was no immediate solution he could think that would help his situation! The public transportation from where he was and needed to be wasn’t a viable option.
If he were to take a cab, it would cost him half his salary. After taking a look at his GPS, Carr knew the distance would be incredibly challenging without a car. He needed a lot of creativity to figure out how to pull this off!
A Long Journey Ahead
The GPS revealed that it would be roughly a seven-hour walk for Carr. He needed to get to his new job so he could help a couple of move in the morning, and he was short on options.
After deep contemplation, he decided to use his two feet to get where he needed to be. Even though it seemed like such a far walk, Carr knew he was fit enough to do it. This was complicated, but Carr knew it was possible…
The Walk Of Fate
Carr dreamed of joining the Marines once he completed college, so he saw this as a test to prepare his body for the future. He wanted to do everything he could to secure this new employment opportunity, so he had to make it to work on his first day!
To make it by eight in the morning, he thought the safest bet would be to leave at midnight. Carr even challenged himself to make it there before the estimated time of arrival that Google told him.
It Was Time To Go
After Carr made the decision, he began getting ready for the mission. He cooked up some eggs with bologna so he would have the energy to complete this trip.
Carr went to bed to get in a couple of hours of sleep, but that was more than enough for him. It seemed like only five minutes before the alarm rang, but that meant it was time to begin his 20-mile walk to his first day of work!
Don’t Forget About Safety
Another great thing about his new job is that Carr didn’t need to take that much with him. He really only needed strong characteristics, such as strength and attitude. That allowed him to keep his backpack light for the walk.
He grabbed his wallet, phone, a bat, and a kitchen knife for safety purposes. Not because of other people, but in case a wild animal approached him, at least he’d have something for protection. Walking in the dark at night can be frightening!
Off Into The Darkness
Carr started his long walk finally, walking at a steady pace and adding in sprinting every now and then to make up some time. He knew a dangerous situation could’ve happened at any moment, so he remained conscious of his surroundings.
A few hours into the trek, he saw eyes in the distance, so he grabbed his bat before realizing it was just a stray dog. He walked across the street, hoping the pooch wouldn’t bother him, and he also picked up a ball and threw it in the opposite direction. It worked. Due to Carr making great time, he decided to rest for a couple of minutes…
Time To Rest
Carr walked for four hours straight and felt great about it. His legs burned a bit, but another four hours wouldn’t hurt him. He thought a quick rest would help him.
Taking a break would give him more energy, so it was a calculated decision on his behalf. That’s when he saw a pair of lights pulling up to him. After walking for so long, Carr hadn’t seen any vehicles, so he became a little frightened upon seeing this car at four in the morning…
Was It The Police??
As the vehicle drew closer, Carr realized it was a cop car! The last thing he wanted was for the police to see him sitting on the side of the road, but they pulled up right next to him.
He began to worry that they wouldn’t believe him, so his fear grew. For someone with his ethnicity, dealing with the authorities isn’t always the easiest of things to do. And receiving sympathy might’ve been out of the picture.
A Kindred Spirit
When the officer finally pulled up to Carr, he rolled down the window and asked why he was all alone in the morning on the road. The officer’s name was Mark Knighton, as Carr remembered.
That’s when Carr tried to explain his situation. He told the policeman that his car broke down and that he had no other option but to walk to work because it was his first day on the new job. Thankfully, Knighton believed him right away.
Time To Eat
Officer Knighton told Carr that his determination to arrive on time was impressive, even if it meant getting there on foot. He asked if Carr was hungry to which he said yes, but he didn’t have any money.
The policeman invited Carr out to eat and said he didn’t need to pay for a thing. At first, Carr had his suspicions about his generosity, but he knew he didn’t have much choice. It was time to eat with the cop…
Helping Carr Tremendously
After chowing down on some much-needed food, Officer Knighton informed Carr that he couldn’t take him all the way where he needed to be, but he could get him closer to Birmingham. He transported Carr closer to his destination, and Carr was extremely grateful.
Knighton still had another trick up his sleeve. After speaking with another officer nearby, they figured out a new plan. Knighton dropped Carr off at the local church, and the other policeman would scoop him up from there.
Starting To Feel Anxious
After thanking the officer, he went on his way, and Carr waited as instructed. Some time passed, but the new policeman still didn’t show up, so Carr grew anxious thinking all his work would be for not.
As the moments passed, Carr chose to continue his heroic journey. It was over five hours since he started his trip, and Carr began to see the light of the dawn coming up. He was running out of time…
Luck Was On His Side
As luck would have it, Carr only made it so far before seeing a police car pulling up next to him. One of the policemen in the vehicle rolled down the window to make sure it was Carr.
Finally, Carr entered the cop car, and they happily started their trip to Carr’s final destination. He was so grateful because he would be early on his first day, and he would even have some time to rest before working!
Getting In Early
Arriving early was great for Carr since the job required a bunch of energy and effort. His first duty was to help Jenny and Chris with their move, and he made it there at 6:30 A.M., thanks to the police.
Carr knocked on the door with the police officer next to him, and when Jenny Lamey opened it, she couldn’t believe her eyes. That’s when the officer explained that Carr had walked all night to make it on time.
Full Of Energy
Jenny Lamey was in disbelief over the whole situation. She immediately offered Carr a cup of water and told him to get some rest before the rest of the team showed up in an hour. Carr had a lot of energy and wanted to get started.
Shortly after, everyone else arrived, and although they had never met, the employees had a ton of chemistry. The Bellhops workers packed up everything and unloaded it at the new home with ease.
Something Of A Role Model
The efficiency the workers showed, mixed with Carr’s determination and energy, impressed the Lamey family. Carr had so much extra in the tank that he even played basketball with Jenny’s three young children.
Carr’s story went viral, and that’s when Jenny told the media Carr was the perfect type of role model she wanted her kids to be around. That’s incredibly high praise, to have a stranger willing to vouch for you and want you to spend time with their children!
Going Social With It
The story touched Jenny and her whole family so much, and she wanted to make sure Carr’s efforts would get proper recognition. She didn’t have to do it, but it was important to her.
After figuring some things out, Jenny called Walter’s boss to say how impressed she was by his grit and performance at work. She also shared the situation with everyone on her social media accounts. Jenny wanted this news to spread far and wide…
Good News Travels Fast…
Jenny had no idea the whole world would hear about this story! Her post went viral, and everyone wanted to help Carr.
That’s when she started a GoFundMe page for him to assist with donations that could get him back on his feet. Much to their delight, the campaign brought in over $44,000 for Carr! On top of that, a financial adviser agreed to help Carr for free so that he wouldn’t make the wrong decisions with all that money.
Someone Was Very Proud
All Carr wanted to do was keep his job, which he did. And his luck didn’t end after that day. The CEO of Bellops heard about this story and chose to add even more recognition to Carr’s efforts.
The CEO, Luke Marklin, called Carr, who couldn’t believe it when he answered the phone. Marklin told him how much he appreciated the hard work and effort Carr showed and said that he wanted to meet him in person.
A New Future Awaits
The two chose a day to meet at a local cafe. Carr arrived and saw a few of his colleagues awaiting him. There was some confusion, but Carr was also excited to see what would happen next.
Then, CEO Luke Marklin handed Carr a set of keys. He told him the keys were for his 2014 Ford Escape, a gift for an extremely hard-working employee! Marklin gave Carr a vehicle free of charge, and Carr was in utter disbelief.
Working Hard Does Pay Off
This heartwarming story shows that determination and hard work can go a long way. Carr knew he wasn’t getting enough income from his fast-food job and needed more money, so he wasn’t afraid to venture out to something new.
As it turned out, having his car break down was a blessing in disguise, but it took strength and confidence to succeed. Had he not had the determination to walk all those miles, Carr wouldn’t be driving in a new car with thousands of dollars to his name.