Before the age of nine there had been three murders on his block and for those around the self-confessed ‘thug’ who skipped school and got in to regular trouble, his future looked bleak.
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‘When I got suspended my dad beat the s**t out of me with his weight-lifting belt. Soon after he was arrested again after drugs were found in a friend’s car. ‘We’d hang out in the Tenderloin district and tease hookers but none of us were interested in them in a sexual way, and I was actually a late bloomer.
‘They put me in a drug program and gave me a year probation.’ Against the odds, Bautista’s experience with drugs was brief as he claims to have rarely felt the lure or desire for narcotics. ‘By the time I was thirteen I was getting arrested for petty stuff.
When I talk, I say what I honestly feel and I say it plainly, in just a few words. It’s painful and embarrassing as hell for me to admit that I never graduated.
I have regretted that my whole life.’ Bautista – who is of Filipino and Greek descent – reflects on those days with regret, but is also grateful to be able to show children today the error of his ways.
Start small with one pursuit and let it build.’ Bautista was arrested many more times on his way to becoming a Wrestle Mania champion after taking a job as a bouncer at a nightclub.
‘I once went a little bit overboard and kicked two guys in the head.
‘One time a guy was trying to shoot someone on our block and instead of shooting the person he had the beef with, he hit an innocent girl.
‘People in the neighborhood grabbed him and were taking him to the highway overpass to throw him off.
They ended up on the ground with their eyes rolling to the back of their head. ‘I was arrested with felony assault with a deadly weapon – mainly my feet.