Chance Encounter at Daytona 500 Leaves the Rock “Grateful”

Soumyadeep Saha

The Daytona 500 has always been special to the drivers and the fans for several reasons. For one, the season opens and closes at the 2.5-mile racetrack. And two, it is Daytona; one of the most-loved tri-ovals in NASCAR. But this year’s event was special to Grand Marshal Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson for a very personal reason.

According to reports, today, Johnson is the world’s highest-paid actor. But life has not always been easy for the WWE icon. There was a time when he had gotten derailed and started committing petty crimes. “Thirteen is when I started to veer off the tracks,” he said in an interview. “I started getting arrested for fighting, theft, all kinds of stupid (stuff) that I shouldn’t have been doing.”

However, Johnson’s high school football coach, Jody Cwick, came to his rescue. Coach Cwick had told ‘The Rock’ to stop getting himself arrested and play football for him. And he did that, which ultimately changed his life. Surprisingly, at this year’s Daytona 500, the wrestler-turned-actor met someone who mentioned the name of Johnson’s school in Pennsylvania and his football coach. While making a video for this man, Johnson had said, “Rest in peace, I love you brother”. Later, he posted the entire incident on X and wrote, “Amidst the adrenaline and beautiful chaos of #DAYTONA500 this moment was the last thing I expected. I’m grateful it did.”

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Dwayne Johnson’s love for American Football

Very few people know that ‘The Rock’, an extremely successful wrestler and now an actor, once wanted to pursue a football career. However, an unfortunate shoulder injury stood in his way to attain stardom in the sport. Although he could never make it to the NFL, he did play in the Canadian Football League (CFL).

After a successful high school career, Johnson received several scholarships, one of which led him to play football at the University of Miami under the tutelage of Coach Dennis Erickson. But the happiness didn’t last long as he got injured and wasn’t able to play a lot. That’s when he started getting depressed. “I didn’t want to do anything. I didn’t want to go anywhere. I was crying constantly. Eventually, you reach a point where you are all cried out,” Johnson recalled.

Sadly, even that phase in his career was short-lived. Despite landing a deal with the Calgary Stampeders as a linebacker in 1995, Johnson couldn’t continue playing owing to his past injuries. As a result, his coaches had to drop the hopes of having him on the team within barely two months into the season. Although they wanted him back in the team eventually, The Rock didn’t go back and made up his mind to join their family business in the wrestling industry. The rest is history.

Post Edited By:Srijan Mandal

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About the author

Soumyadeep Saha

Soumyadeep Saha

Soumyadeep is a motorsport journalist at the Sportsrush. While preparing for his PhD in English literature back in 2021, the revving of stock cars pulled him towards being a full-time NASCAR writer. And, he has been doing it ever since. With over 500 articles to his credit, Soumyadeep strives every single day to bring never-heard-before stories to the table in order to give his readers that inside scoop. A staunch supporter of Denny Hamlin, Soumyadeep is an amateur bodybuilder as well. When not writing about his favorite Joe Gibbs Racing icon, he can be seen training budding bodybuilders at the gym or snuggled in a beanbag watching anime.

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