John Cena lived out of his car when he first moved to Los Angeles

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John Cena’s success didn’t come easy and as far as I know, he has pretty much remained unproblematic. (Well except for those who were upset with him for apologizing in Mandarin for calling Taiwan a country a couple of months ago.) John, who is starring in Fast and Furious 9, opened up to The Sun about his journey to stardom. John said he found himself homeless and living in his 1991 Lincoln Town Car two weeks after arriving in Los Angeles. He made it work because he didn’t want to return home to Massachusetts and disappoint his family. Below are a few more highlights from The Sun:

He says: “I slept in my car for a while, which happened to be a very roomy 1991 Lincoln Town Car. I had my clothes in the trunk and I slept in the back seat.”

His job in a gym didn’t pay enough to cover his living costs. He says: “I’d wake up, use the locker rooms and the shower and repeat the process all over again.”

Even that “roomy” Lincoln would have been a tight squeeze for the musclebound six-footer. Bullied at school for his dress sense, John turned to weight-lifting.

He says: “I remember the walk to the school bus, at the very least, five times, being shoved down, toppled down.” But as a newly ripped 15-year-old, nobody picked on him.

He moved from the Massachusetts town of West Newbury to LA in 1999. Failure was not an option. His father John Snr, an estate agent, predicted John wouldn’t make it in La La Land.

He says: “Dad told me I would be home with my tail between my legs in two weeks. Sure enough, I went through my resources quickly and had to think on my feet. I didn’t want to go home crying.”

A trainer at the gym suggested John try wrestling. Under the name The Prototype — the first of several guises — he stepped into the pro ring in 2000. Within four years he was a WWE champ and enjoyed a rivalry with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Their 2012 bout broke WWE viewing records.

[From The Sun]

I know there are many stories that aren’t successes and some that turn out to be tragic. But I personally love stories like John’s, Phoebe Dynevor’s, and Laverne Cox’s. Stories about people who went hard after their dreams and at times wanted to give up right before their big breakthrough are so heart warming. For John, it couldn’t have happened to a better person. I think the only thing that saddened me about his story was his father. I believe children should be encouraged by their parents to pursue their dreams. Yes, a career in the arts is damn near impossible, but encourage them to at least try. Then again, it was most likely those disparaging remarks that pushed John to succeed. I had planned to go see FATF9 in theaters for Nathalie Emmanuel, Helen Mirren and Sung Kang. But this new Delta variant has me on pause. I’ll just have to wait to watch it on my flat screen.

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15 Responses to “John Cena lived out of his car when he first moved to Los Angeles”

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  1. Robin says:

    My kids LOVE John Cena. Scooby Doo Wrestle Mania was on a loop at one point.

    • LaraW” says:

      Wait, what is this Scooby Doo Wrestlemania of which you speak? I love old school Scooby Doo (there’s something about the animation, formulaic plot, and one-dimensional characters that really makes me happy) and have tried many times to get into the newer episodes, but they’re too shiny and complex (lol). Is Wrestlemania a spin off? Is it on Netflix?

      • Robin says:

        Hi LaraW”. This is one of the greatest questions I’ve ever been asked! I only know John Cena from this Scooby Doo. We’re in the UK so I have no backstory to him as a person or wrestler. It’s not a British thing.

        So, it’s a 2014 cartoon film, feature length (I’ve just researched and it’s apparently 84 minutes). I think it features the voices of the star wrestlers, as well as them in cartoon form. It’s not like the olden days Scooby Doos, which I love too, but it is very funny. I’ve just googled and it says direct to DVD. I can’t remember how we got hold of it – perhaps it was a DVD. It seems so long ago now. All I remember is how my much my son and daughter loved it, and that it was watched over and over and over…x Probably a phase!

      • LaraW” says:

        Thanks! I shall have to watch it!

  2. Southern Fried says:

    Hoping he doesn’t become one of those idiotic egomaniacs to talk running for President like the Rock and Matthew McConaughey.

  3. Chaine says:

    it’s a touching story, but at this stage in my life i can’t help but think he was privileged to have a car to live in and privileged to have a job where he could shower and privileged to be a male and thus probably at a lot less risk of sexual assault while being homeless.

    • LaraW” says:

      I think all of what you say is true, but I don’t think being aware of privilege has to necessarily detract from his story. So long as he recognizes the advantages he was born with and doesn’t go around acting like he succeeded based on merit only, claiming that everyone else just didn’t work hard enough or didn’t try enough or weren’t resilient enough, I don’t it takes away from his achievements. Life has never been an even playing field and it never will be. The fact that we are acknowledging now that many people faced (and still face) very deep and insiduous institutional biases and yet still succeeded I think should make us admire those people more, not necessarily take away from another privileged person’s achievements—again, so long as the privileged individual recognizes their privilege and are a true ally (not merely performative).

      This is, I think, what a lot of people who feel attacked by “accusations” of privilege don’t understand: it’s not about dragging them down and taking away their freedoms or whatever, it’s about raising others up to give them equal opportunity.

    • Anna says:

      @Chaine Don’t forget *white*. Whiteness affords almost all the privileges. I didn’t come to this page to make this comment–I think John Cena is hot and talented, generally good guy–but seeing that list of privileges, seemed glaring the biggest one was missing…

      • Chaine says:

        I totally agree, I wasn’t thinking that far when i posted but we’ve absolutely seen on the news even in the past year where non-white people ended up dead because police didn’t like that they were sleeping in their car.

  4. faithmobile says:

    He has a great interview on the Graham Norton show where he talks about The Prototype: half man half robot persona and how dumb and silly it was. He’s so charming and such a good egg.

  5. ooshpick says:

    Don’t like these stories. Encourages young people to think they have to throw away everything in order to follow their heroes. I know someone who went into massive debt and ended up psychologically battered because he thought that he would be giving up if he didn’t just keep pursuing a dream that was not happening. It’s a very rare few who make it. What about all the rest who live in their cars and then lose their cars and end up as garbage by the side of the road?

    • Betsy says:

      I’m inclined to agree with you. It’s wonderful when it works out, but for how many thousands does it not? It also reinforces the cultural message that if you are living life with 100% passion and doing the most to make something happen, you aren’t living. I definitely disagree with that.

  6. Mee yo says:

    Just came to say, walked past him in person, he’s 5’8-5’9 not 6’.

  7. Imara219 says:

    I watched the WWE Ruthless Agression docu a short while ago and I was impressed by John Cena’s story. I didn’t start out liking him as a wrestler. I only saw his PG Era stuff and at that point he was the star shoved down everyone’s throat. Adult fans made fun of his 5 wrestling moves and eye rolled at his corny phrases. Seeing the docu was fun because you saw Cena as a tenacious Eager Beaver.

    In the docu it shows he was about to be cut from the company and get his termination papers but he was kept on only because Stephanie McMahon heard him freestyle rap on the road bus, enjoyed it, and he got the hint to do it as a character since she loved it so much. Thuganomics Cena was born and he took off like a rocket. So good for him. A total manwhore to his ex wife but decent guy work ethic wise. I think he mellowed out a lot these last few years and it shows.