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Dwayne Johnson Gives His People's Champion Award to Shocked Make-a-Wish Recipient: 'She Is a Survivor'

·4 min read
Dwayne Johnson
Dwayne Johnson

Alberto Rodriguez/E! Entertainment/NBCUniversal/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is officially the champ!

The actor was honored with the People's Champion Award at the 2021 People's Choice Awards on Tuesday.

"His achievements are legend. His work ethic is unparalleled. He transcends all demographics. He is impossible not to like and he can sure put down a lot of pancakes," surprise presenter Jeff Bezos said while introducing the actor. "But even with all that, the thing that really stands out the most? He's kind. … You see, kindness is a choice. And what I admire most in Dwayne is his choice to show unwavering kindness to everyone around him."

When he took the stage, Johnson, 49, proved the words that were said about him.

For more on the 2021 People's Choice Awards and other top stories, listen below to our daily podcast on PEOPLE Every Day.

"I want to thank my good friend Jeff, my drinking buddy," he said, before telling the audience about meeting boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who like Johnson in his days as a WWE entertainer, was known as "the people's champ."

Johnson recalled his last meeting with Ali at an event for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, adding that working with the organization is a "privilege and an honor."

Dwayne Johnson, Jeff Bezos
Dwayne Johnson, Jeff Bezos

Christopher Polk/E! Entertainment/NBCUniversal/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty

Then Johnson surprised a teen girl who was in the audience as a Make-a-Wish recipient.

"I met her earlier. I told her how inspired I was by her story. She is a survivor. She has fought literally for her life," he said. "She has inspired her family, her friends, now you guys here, now the world that is watching."

Joining the actor onstage, the teen was clearly shocked. "I didn't expect it at all," she said. "This is crazy. Thank you so much to you and to Make-a-Wish."

Johnson then gave her his award because "you represent everything that it means to be a people's champion," he told her.

Before he left the stage, Johnson shared words he said he first heard from Ali. "Service to others is the rent you pay for the room you have here on earth." Then, for good measure, he added, "It's nice to be important but it's more important to be nice."

Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos

Alberto Rodriguez/E! Entertainment/NBCUniversal/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty

Johnson joined Halle Berry and Christina Aguilera on the list of winners at the awards show, which aired live on NBC and E! from the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica.

The actor has been hard at work in 2021 with the movies Jungle Cruise and Netflix's smash hit Red Notice as well as his TV show, Young Rock.

He had a busy night in Santa Monica, too, picking up three other nominations for the People's Choice Awards, including for Male Movie Star of 2021, Male TV Star of 2021 and Social Star of 2021.

RELATED: Dwayne Johnson Reveals the Sweet Way His Daughter Jasmine, 5, Reacts When Fans Recognize Her Dad

"Dwayne is one of the most beloved actors of our time who has achieved unprecedented success throughout his career," said Jen Neal, EVP, Entertainment Live Events, Specials & E! News, NBCUniversal Entertainment Television and Streaming, told Deadline in a statement announcing this year's honorees.

"During a period where there has been a lot of uncertainty, Johnson has displayed an uncanny ability to raise spirits and make people smile despite circumstances," the statement continued. "His philanthropic efforts and international social media presence has made him a cultural leader and inspiration to many, making him the perfect recipient for 'The People's Champion' award this year."

RELATED VIDEO: 'Eye of the Beholder': Dwyane Johnson & Ryan Reynolds Joke on Who Is Sexier Sexiest Man Alive

In a November interview with Esquire, Johnson revealed he would love to take over the role of James Bond from Daniel Craig. Johnson's grandfather, Peter Maivia, played a villain in the 1967 Bond film You Only Live Twice.

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"Yes, my grandfather was a Bond villain … with Sean Connery," Johnson said in the interview. "Very, very cool and I would like to follow in his next footsteps and be the next Bond. I don't want to be a villain. You gotta be Bond."

The 2021 People's Choice Awards — hosted by Kenan Thompson — aired simultaneously on NBC and E!.

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