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Dwayne Johnson

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A multimedia star in the 21st century, Dwayne Johnson is arguably the biggest star in entertainment to rise from professional wrestling, becoming one of the biggest draws in the World Wrestling Entertainment league before shifting gears and establishing himself as a bankable film star. Dwayne Johnson was born in Hayward, California on May 2, 1972. Dwayne's career in wrestling was something of a family tradition -- his father Rocky Johnson and maternal grandfather "High Chief" Peter Maivia were both professional grapplers -- but he first made his mark in football. Johnson was in 11th grade and living in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania when he joined the football team at Freedom High School. Johnson's skills on the gridiron led to him attending the University of Miami on a full football scholarship, playing defensive tackle. Johnson was part of the team that won the national championship in 1991, and after graduating in 1995, he played professionally in Canada with the Calgary Stampeders. After two months as a backup linebacker, Johnson was cut from the team, and in 1996 he began pursuing a career in wrestling. After a brief spell as part of the United States Wrestling Association (under the name Flex Kavana), in mid-1996 Johnson signed a contract with the World Wrestling Federation (later to be renamed World Wrestling Entertainment). Initially, he was known in the ring as Rocky Maivia (in honor of his father and grandfather), but by 1997, he was referring to himself as "The Rock," and he developed a large fan following as "the People's Champion." By 2002, The Rock had won seven WWF/WWE championships, and he'd already begun expanding his career outside the ring. Johnson had appeared in the 1999 wrestling documentary Beyond the Mat, and made a cameo appearance in the 2001 Disney Channel movie Longshot. In 2001, Johnson landed a small but showy role in The Mummy Returns, and the following year, Johnson's character was spun off into a film of his own, The Scorpion King. The Scorpion King was a major box-office success, and while Johnson would continue to make occasional appearances at WWE events, he devoted less time to wrestling and more to making movies. While Johnson excelled in action and adventure vehicles, and helped reinvigorate the Fast and the Furious, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and G.I. Joe franchises, he showed he was also a sure hand at comedy, enjoying success with films such as The Game Plan, The Tooth Fairy, The Other Guys, and Central Intelligence. Johnson made his debut as a recording artist in 2000, making a cameo appearance on Wyclef Jean's single "It Doesn't Matter," which also appeared on the album The Ecleftic: 2 Sides II a Book. In 2001, Johnson duetted with rapper Slick Rick on "Pie," a track from the album WWF: The Music, Vol. 5. Johnson also sang in character on the soundtracks to the movies Be Cool, The Tooth Fairy, and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. In 2016, Johnson provided the voice of Maui, a Polynesian demi-god in the Disney animated feature Moana. In the movie, Johnson's character sang a bit of braggadocio called "You're Welcome." The tune was released as a single, and became a modest hit, debuting at number 83 on the Hot 100 singles chart. ~ Mark Deming