Johnson was born on May 2, 1972, in Hayward, California, to Ata Johnson (née Maivia; b. 1948) and former professional wrestler Rocky Johnson (born Wayde Douglas Bowles; b. 1944). Growing up, Johnson briefly lived in New Zealand with his mother's family, where he attended Richmond Road Primary School in Grey Lynn before returning to the United States. He then attended Montclaire Elementary School in Charlotte, North Carolina and before moving to Hamden, Connecticut where he spent a couple years at Shepherd Glen Elementary School and Hamden Middle School. Johnson spent his high school years in Honolulu, Hawaii at President William McKinley High School, in Nashville, Tennessee at Glencliff High School and McGavock High School, and in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania at Freedom High School. He was arrested multiple times for fighting, theft, and check fraud before the age of 17. Johnson also began playing sports, joining his high schools' gridiron football, track and field and wrestling teams.