Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has become one of the most recognizable celebrities in the world. Johnson is best known for his gargantuan muscles and seemingly superhuman strength. Now, Johnson is sharing part of the story of how he became the strong person he is today and the credit he owes to his life-long friend, Milton McBride Rosen.
Tampa’s ABC Action News reports, “When they were growing up in Tampa, Milton, who has Down syndrome, taught the Rock how to work out, how to lift weights and how to never, ever quit.”
In a new short film about Milton, produced by Johnson and Good Morning America host Robin Roberts, Johnson shares how Milton has been an inspiration in his life. Johnson and Milton met when “The Rock” was just five- or six-years-old. Johnsons says, “For me, he was just another buddy. Milton was one of the ones who showed me how to start working out.”
Milton had been in foster care for several years before finding an unlikely forever home. Weightlifting twin brothers Bruce and Al Rosen decided to adopt Milton when they were just 23-years-old and Milton was 15. Al says they really connected with Milton and, “After knowing Milton for one or two days, Bruce came to me and said, ‘I’m thinking about adopting Milton.’”
Al added that the brothers “had no idea what we were doing,” but, thankfully, they were not alone in making a family for Milton. Their Tampa weightlifting gym, Boddy Shoppe Gym, became a second home for Milton, and the weightlifters, including Johnson, became his family. When Johnson spent time at the Rosens’ house, he would share a room with Milton, which he says solidified their friendship and brotherhood.
Milton is a man of few words, but no one has a doubt of his love, which “The Rock” calls “boundless.” Milton ran track in the Special Olympics before weightlifting was added as a sport in the competition. Once weightlifting was an option, Milton was on his way to gold.
He stunned spectators by lifting 270 pounds. Milton’s family was not surprised, because they had seen his incredible strength. Al says, “Pound for pound, Milton was the strongest guy in the gym.” This was a dramatic change from the skinny, seemingly malnourished young man in foster care.
Much more than his astonishing strength, Milton’s character is what has inspired so many. An example of the profound effect he’s had on the people in his life comes from the story of “The Rock’s” father, wrestling legend Rocky Johnson. After his wrestling career fell on hard times, Rocky became despondent and started drinking excessively. The person who got through to him was Milton.
Rocky says Milton would actually take bottles from him and dump them out. He explains, “He knew it was no good, and he knew it was hurting me. And he didn’t want to see me hurt. He’d have tears coming down his eyes, and that touched my heart; that would make me cry.” In short, Rocky says, “He saved my life.”
Johnson says Milton was a “saving grace to my dad.” Al Rosen confirmed the story, saying, “Milton convinced him [Rocky] to stop drinking, and he’s never had a drink since.”
Milton, who has always called Johnson “Dewey,” still says that he is stronger than “The Rock.” Although Johnson may have finally surpassed his friend in physical strength, there is no doubt that he still finds tremendous inspiration from Milton. That’s why he calls Milton “The Rock’s Rock,” which is the title of the short film about Milton’s life.
Other celebrities, like Jamie Foxx, have shared how individuals with Down syndrome have been an inspiration in their lives. As interventions and therapies advance, children with Down syndrome have tremendous educational, social, and career opportunities that were previously closed to them. And yet, increased prenatal testing has led to a culture that advocates that every child with Down syndrome should be killed in abortion.
People mistakenly believe that having Down syndrome means a child’s life is not worth living. As Milton’s, DeOndra’s, Stephen’s, and Madeline’s stories show, nothing could be further from the truth.
A person’s worth is not determined by his or her genetic condition or disability, and every person deserves a chance at Life.