Johnson posted an emotional message Friday on Instagram alongside a video that showed him as a kid watching his father wrestle:
"I love you.
"You broke color barriers, became a ring legend and trail blazed your way thru this world. I was the boy sitting in the seats, watching and adoring you, my hero from afar. The boy you raised to always be proud of our cultures and proud of who and what I am. The boy you raised with the toughest of love.
"The intense work. The hard hand. The adoring boy who wanted to know only your best qualities. Who then grew to become a man realizing you had other deep complex sides that needed to be held and understood. Son to father. Man to man. That's when my adoration turned to respect. And my empathy turned to gratitude.
"Grateful that you gave me life. Grateful you gave me life's invaluable lessons. Dad, I wish I had one more shot to tell you, I love you, before you crossed over to the other side. But you were ripped away from me so fast without warning. Gone in an instant and no coming back.
"I'm in pain. But we both know it's just pain and it' ll pass. Now I'll carry your mana and work ethic with me, as it's time to move on because I have my family to feed and work to accomplish.
"Finally, I want you to rest your trailblazing soul, Soulman. Pain free, regret free, satisfied and at ease. You lived a very full, very hard, barrier breaking life and left it all in the ring. I love you dad and I'll always be your proud and grateful son.
"Go rest high."
The Rock also revealed that his father died from a heart attack:
"A lot of you guys wanted to know what happened to my dad. He had not been feeling well, had been battling a cold and infection and on Tuesday he had what's called a deep vein thrombosis, which is essentially a clot in the leg.
"It was a big ole blood clot that broke free, traveled up his body, and went right to his lung, clotted his lung and he died very quickly from a massive heart attack, just like that."
Rocky Johnson, the former son-in-law of wrestling legend Peter Maivia, was born in Canada, and his career in the squared circle spanned nearly three decades. He got his start with the National Wrestling Alliance in 1964 and worked for numerous promotions, including a four-year WWE stint, before his 1991 retirement.
He proceeded to help train his son, who debuted in WWE as Rocky Maivia as an homage to his grandfather and father. The younger Johnson's ring name was later changed to The Rock, and he transformed into one of the most accomplished wrestlers in history before taking over Hollywood.
Johnson was inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame alongside Maivia in 2008. The Rock delivered the induction speech.