Earlier this year, a 7-year-old boy from Chattanooga, Tenn., named Gabriel "Tater" Singleton started a social media campaign to meet his hero Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. His dream came true when The Rock invited him to visit the set of Baywatch.
Tater was battling a form of cancer called neuroblastoma, and the chemotherapy he was receiving caused his hair to fall out. His mother would show him Instagram photos of The Rock to help him feel more confident about his bald head.
During their day together, The Rock and Tater wore coordinating T-shirts and had an arm wrestling contest. Tater even got Photoshopped into his very own Baywatch poster.
The Rock posted about Tater once again on Tuesday, but this time, he had some sad news to share. Tater recently passed away after a four-year cancer battle.
"A few days ago Lil' Tater passed on, earned his angel wings and is no longer in pain," The Rock wrote alongside a photo of the two of them together.
In the post, the star pays emotional tribute to his young fan, describing how Tater inspired him and sending his condolences to the boy's loved ones.
"As a dad, I'd do anything to put a smile on my girl's faces and Tater's mom and dad did everything they could to make this little boy smile," he wrote. "He sure did and it was beautiful. And we all smiled with him."
He continued, "We can't control what's around the corner, but we can ALWAYS control our effort and how we choose to LIVE and LOVE in this unpredictable, crazy and amazing thing we call life. Effort is our choice."
He added the hashtag #LiveLikeTater, the same phrase printed on the T-shirt he wore the day he and Tater met. It's a mantra we can all follow.
Read the full post below:
Many of you know the story of strong lil' Tater who's wish it was to meet me. Been sitting on this post for a few days now, 'cause I wasn't sure how to express it.. but here goes. We go thru life and work hard, enjoy some successes, learn from our mistakes, provide for and protect our families - as a man there's some things I'm 100% certain of. Those are things I/we can control. Then there's some things, as much as it pains me, we just can't. I don't know why this lil' 7yr old boy was chosen to battle cancer. Fighting it hard core daily. Was it so his fight could inspire everyone around him? Was it ensure we would wake up everyday with a greater gratitude for life and hug our loved ones that much stronger? I believe everything happens for a reason - but sometimes it requires us to have faith to look deeper to know what they are. A few days ago Lil' Tater passed on, earned his angel wings and is no longer in pain. Our strength and love go out to Tater's mom, dad and sisters whom I had the privilege of spending time with on our set of Baywatch. As a dad, I'd do anything to put a smile on my girl's faces and Tater's mom and dad did everything they could to make this little boy smile. He sure did and it was beautiful. And we all smiled with him. We can't control what's around the corner, but we can ALWAYS control our effort and how we choose to LIVE and LOVE in this unpredictable, crazy and amazing thing we call life. Effort is our choice. #LiveLikeTater (after writing this post I'm counting my blessings and motivated to be productive today and run thru a wall like a maniac. Which would DEFINITELY make Tater laugh😂🙏🏾).
It's just another reason out of many to admire The Rock, who has proven time and again that his biggest muscle is his heart. From running a boot camp for troubled teens to posing for a photo with a Vietnam vet, he's constantly using his fame for good.
Our thoughts are with Tater's family at this unimaginably difficult time.