Inside Dave Bautista's Complicated Personal Life

Wrestling fans were the first to witness the power of Dave Bautista. As the WWE wrestler "Batista," the big man went from an unknown to one of the biggest stars in the sport — all in a few short years. Bautista explained on "Ellen" that even though he was built like a truck, he was told in his first tryout, "I would never be a professional wrestler and I should leave and go away and never come back." Instead of listening, Bautista said the criticism "lit a fire under my butt" to prove the haters wrong. Though he once tried to be a nice-guy wrestler, or "babyface," as the Tampa Bay Times put it, Bautista became a legendary bad guy or "heel." He went on to win the WWE championship, but Bautista's career was just getting started. 

He then followed in the footsteps of other wrestlers-turned-actors, including John Cena and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, by appearing in films such as "Guardians of the Galaxy" and "Blade Runner 2049." Just don't mention the comparisons to Bautista. "Those guys are wrestlers who became movie stars. I'm ... something else," he told the Tampa Bay Times. This big man didn't always have success in the ring and on screen. Bautista went from a troubled childhood to hitting rock bottom, all before attempting to become a star. But even once he landed in Hollywood, he found new struggles with fame and more.

Let's take a look inside Dave Bautista's complicated personal life.

Dave Bautista's dangerous childhood

As a young boy, Dave Bautista grew up in Washington, D.C., but Bautista said his experience of the nation's capital in the '80s was downright scary. As reported by the Tampa Bay Times, Bautista often saw violent acts in his neighborhood, like when he "watched from his window as a mob beat a man and tried to throw him from an overpass." He witnessed his mom being hit, also. In his memoir "Batista Unleashed," the wrestler revealed even more gruesome details of his time in Washington D.C. For example, he remembered that a dead body wound up on his front lawn. Bautista said a second person died nearby, and by the third death in the neighborhood, his mom felt that the family "had to move out of there." Bautista recalled watching a man who had been shot in the head and was dying. After the incident, the family returned to San Francisco, where they had stayed previously.

While living on the west coast, there was a point when Bautista's mother was on welfare and without a job. As for living arrangements, he recalled sharing a mattress with his sister. "We had milk crates to sit on in the kitchen, and industrial-size wire spools for a kitchen table. We had that for years," Bautista explained of the San Francisco apartment.

Dave Bautista's education was curtailed

Starting when he was in first grade, Dave Bautista began to skip school, and what started off as missing a few classes soon became excessive. "The older I got, the more I'd ditch," he admitted in his book, "Batista Unleashed." According to Bautista, he skipped most of his sixth grade year. As for what he would do with that extra time, Bautista explained how his choices didn't always add up. 

For example, he once went to the zoo during his skip day, just to watch his classmates on a field trip to that same zoo. "I guess it seemed like fun at the time," Bautista recalled. Often, he would spend his free time riding around San Francisco on the city buses and cable cars, sometimes without paying. Bautista's rebellion against school continued into his teenage years, when he moved back east to live with his dad, and ultimately, he dropped out of high school in his senior year. "It's painful and embarrassing as hell for me to admit it, but I never graduated," he said. Bautista added that his advice to high schoolers was, "Stay in school. Learn as much as you possibly can."

In an interview for Men's Health, Bautista had mixed feelings about his decision to leave high school. "My circumstances were different and school wasn't a priority," he said. As a result of dropping out, he shared, "I always live with that regret and I'm not ashamed of it."

Dave Bautista's alleged drug scandal

In 2007, the WWE suspended ten of its wrestlers for violating the organization's drug use policy, specifically, the use of steroids. Though the WWE didn't specify the names of the people suspended, ESPN reported that investigators looked into an Orlando pharmacy that counted many wrestlers as clients. In addition to the late WWE star Chris Benoit, Dave Bautista was among those listed.

According to Bleacher Report, Bautista may have taken steroids to help rehabilitate his arm. Bautista tore his tricep in a wrestling event in 2003 and further injured it a few weeks later. But because he reportedly hurt his arm while running, some speculated the WWE was covering up Bautista's suspension with a fake injury. There were additional damages in the wrestler's career, including a left hamstring injury that led to surgery. Suspicions arose when Bautista once returned to the ring from injury "bigger than before, and many figured steroid use was going on" (per Bleacher Report).

Despite all the speculation, no proof ever came out that Bautista used steroids. Instead, he may just be naturally large, with the help of some heavy weights. Bautista told Men's Health that he loved to hit the gym prior to his wrestling career "because I really wanted to get big physically."

Dave Bautista's incriminating past

At a young age, Dave Bautista found himself in trouble with the law. In his memoir "Batista Unleashed," the future actor revealed that as a teenager, he would be "arrested for petty stuff" like stealing bikes. Even with his illegal activities, Bautista wrote, "I never spent more than a day in jail." Going beyond theft, Bautista also revealed he would get into fights as a freshman in high school. He specifically remembered one incident of beating up a boy who was hitting on his girlfriend. 

In another fight, Bautista was charged with assault. As a result, he went to a group home to live with about a dozen other young men. After leaving the home, he once again returned after throwing a party that trashed his dad's house. In another childhood incident, Bautista terrorized a young boy and was arrested for assault. The charges were ultimately dropped for "stuffing a kid in the trunk of a car, beating him up, and stealing his mom's jewelry."

Later, when Bautista became a bouncer, he continued his angry outburst. He was found guilty, a verdict that was later overturned, for a "misdemeanor assault after he dragged a man out of the bar who he says had been hassling his then girlfriend, one of the bartenders," Men's Health recapped. Bautista felt justified in his aggressive decision and explained of the assault, "I made sure his head met a couple of brick walls on the way out."

Dave Bautista's messy family history

As a young boy, Dave Bautista was especially close with this grandfather. As detailed in his memoir "Batista Unleashed," his grandfather wasn't affectionate toward Bautista or his cousins as babies. That is, until one day when Bautista's mother had to tend to something quickly. "...she just threw me in my grandfather's arms. His face lit up," the actor wrote. 

Bautista claimed he became the favorite grandkid and had fond memories of telling his grandfather how much he loved him. When his grandfather passed away, Bautista was heartbroken. In the midst of his loss, the child didn't have the same relationship with his grandmother. In fact, he had awful memories of her and remembered, "My grandmother was mean, nasty, and abusive." 

Bautista also had a difficult relationship with his father. He said of his upbringing, "I never felt my father supported us." Even after becoming a famous wrestler, Bautista wrote in his memoir, "Things are still hard between us." He further closed the door on his relationship with his dad, who was a hairdresser, in an interview for the Tampa Bay Times: "He never did anything for me."

Later, Bautista himself became a dad. But his career as an actor created an obstacle in the relationship with his own family. He confessed to Men's Health that he missed "his 14-year-old son, Oliver, and his two dogs back home in Tampa" while filming the sequel to "Knives Out" in Serbia.

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

Inside Dave Bautista's love life

Although he had little trouble finding roles in Hollywood to showcase his acting talents, Dave Bautista struggled with his relationships during his time in the public eye. In 2015, Bautista married his third wife. The actor posted a photo on Twitter on their wedding day with his new bride, Sarah Jade. But by 2019, the couple separated. As detailed by the Tampa Bay Times, Bautista and Jade — "a national pole dancing champion" — "[had] plans to split custody of the pit bulls," and the wrestler was in pain while his wife had the dogs. Bautista placed a spider tattoo over her name, which had been inked on his ring finger.

Reflecting on his previous relationships, Bautista revealed that his professions played a part in the issues. He separated from his second wife as his wrestling career was starting to take off. Bautista told Men's Health, "She wanted a husband who was going to be home." When it came time to choose between his wife and possibly becoming a professional wrestler, "I chose my career, because it was the only shot I had."

Following his later separation with Jade, Bautista linked up with a new mystery woman. The two reportedly met while filming a project, and his love interest "understands the business and the limitations it brings to his personal life" (per Men's Health). As of 2021, she and Bautista had been together for two years.

Dave Bautista fought outside the ring

While filming a promo video for the "WWE SummerSlam," Dave Bautista and his fellow wrestler Booker T got into a heated argument. But this wasn't for the cameras — both men started arguing inside the mansion used during the day of filming. In a video for WWE, Booker T said the altercation with Bautista "was all about respect for the business, respect for the boys, respect for the guys that put in work before you." 

Elaborating, Booker T hinted that Bautista was disrespectful to his fellow wrestlers. The altercation then turned into an actual fight. Former wrestler Kurt Angle witnessed the aftermath of the scuffle and revealed that both men became physical with one another. As the host detailed on "The Kurt Angle Show," "...Booker T had a black eye, and Batista was a little banged up, and you know, I just thought it was a big misunderstanding. I know they apologized afterward and made up and whatever they had to do to move on... It was a shame; it really was. It didn't have to happen" (via Sportskeeda). 

Fortunately, both men ultimately overcame the real-life fight and, as Booker T said in the WWE interview, "Bautista and I, we've buried the hatchet."

Dave Bautista's controversial stance

When paparazzi spotted Dave Bautista at the airport, the actor told TMZ about his mixed personal beliefs regarding politics. On one hand, he admitted to being "very liberal." On the other hand, Bautista supported the second amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The wrestler-actor, who lived in Florida at the time of the video, revealed he kept weapons at his house. According to the big man, "We have the right to defend ourselves in our homes." 

In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times, Bautista further explained: "I'm pro firearm. But I don't think we need assault rifles." In the aftermath of the horrific Parkland school shooting, Bautista reportedly looked into getting rid of his own AR-15 rifle by giving it up to police in Florida. The actor said of his weapon, "I'm fine giving mine up, because if somebody breaks into my house, I'm not running to get my AR."

Bautista clarified his political stance to Men's Journal, explaining that he believes gun owners should go through intense scrutiny to obtain a weapon. Additionally, Bautista seemed to hope for a middle ground between those aiming to abolish gun ownership and people who "think that you should be able to buy a bazooka. I don't think that's healthy."

Dave Bautista struggled to stay healthy

Using his body as a main asset has served Dave Bautista well as a wrestler and actor. But behind the scenes, he's dealt with several health issues. For example, Bautista is asthmatic. In his memoir "Batista Unleashed," the wrestler outlined how, from a young age, he had difficulty breathing. His asthma would be exacerbated by allergens such as "animals, pollen, and cigarette smoke." 

As a young man living in San Francisco, Bautista went to the ER "up to two or three times a week" as a result of asthma issues. He credited his mom with meticulously cleaning their house and getting foam pillows to help alleviate his allergies and asthma symptoms. Fortunately, Bautista didn't let his breathing troubles get in the way of his wrestling career, and even better, "I've never had an attack where I was in serious jeopardy," he wrote.

Of course, Bautista's wrestling injuries were additional obstacles to his health. On a 2018 episode of "Personal Mastermind," Bautista said his "torn tricep" tied with his "broken back" for his worst injury.

Dave Bautista reveals one of his worst tattoos

One of Dave Bautista's most distinctive traits, besides his massive muscles, is his tattoo collection. Bautista told Ellen DeGeneres that he is passionate about tattoos and continues to get more. "I've probably got hundreds; I'm covered," he said about his numerous tats. The actor shared that for him, getting permanent ink is a way of commemorating his "life story." Bautista also admitted, "If I have time off, I'm probably getting a tattoo." 

But not every tattoo on his body has been a winner — he especially regretted his very first one. In an interview on "Late Night with Seth Meyers," the actor said the first time he got a tattoo was "from this old redneck in Arlington, Virginia." Even worse, Bautista chose to get the ink on his butt, and the new design read, "heart of stone." Bautista said the private part location was so that people like his dad wouldn't know that he had a tattoo. Even the man giving Bautista the tattoo double-checked to confirm he really wanted it on his butt. Later recognizing the tattoo may not have been the best choice, especially when other wrestlers saw it, Bautista covered it up.

Dave Bautista is more than his body

For a man that started his career body-slamming other men in a ring, often shirtless, Dave Bautista's sensibilities about body image could come as a surprise. He said one of the reasons he left the "Guardians of the Galaxy" franchise was because of his character's demanding physique. "The shirtless thing is getting harder and harder for me," Bautista confessed on an episode of "Ellen" about playing Drax. 

Bautista kept up his peak performance when he was much older than it seemed. "I'm also going to be 54 years old by the time 'Guardians 3' comes out," he explained to Ellen. To help stay in top physical shape, Bautista prescribed himself a limited diet. The actor told Men's Health that he generally doesn't eat dairy, meat, or gluten. Instead, he eats "lots of vegetables, fish, and eggs." 

Even though his massive size makes sense for a lot of roles he has played as an actor, Bautista aspired to move away from the stereotypes. He explained to Vulture that in his opinion, action stars are continually trying to be "more alpha, more masculine, more heroic." In contrast, Bautista wanted to be known for more than his physical appearance. He said, "I'm looking for ways to kind of take away from my stature and physicality, to make me more vulnerable."

The cyber side of Dave Bautista

Though Dave Bautista may have stopped fighting in the wrestling ring, he never stopped that competitive fighting spirit online. He has been an active Twitter user, especially when it comes to voicing his disdain for former president Donald Trump. Bautista tweeted in early 2020 that he hoped for Trump to be impeached. The actor also voiced his support for senator Bernie Sanders and wished for a debate between the two men, adding, "Please let President Dumb-Dumb stand there by himself and be exposed and humiliated by a decent man!" In another tweet, Bautista offered up a $20,000 award and bonuses to look for the person who defaced a manatee in Florida with the word "Trump." Bautista hoped for "the arrest and conviction of the low life scummy MAGATs" responsible for the act.

Bautista isn't afraid to draw any criticism online, as evidenced by the first part of his official Twitter title in 2021, "Vaxxed AF! #TeamPfizer." In an interview for Men's Health, Bautista said about his voice on social media, "There's no middle ground for me. It's either you do the right thing or you're not part of the solution." He admitted that he once thought of stepping away from tweeting. But he stayed on "to be an opposing voice to all those a**holes who are out here being racists and bigots and polarizing our country." The star said he kept tweeting "to spite them."

Dave Bautista's troubled relationship with money

Prior to becoming a wrestler, and later, an international movie star, Dave Bautista was in serious trouble financially. On "Ellen," Bautista explained that he was a bouncer for over a decade, from the age of 17 to around 30. But even with his longstanding job, Bautista revealed, "I was broke and had no future and had two kids." Looking back on that time of his life, he said, "I was desperate. I had nothing."

Fortunately, Bautista's plan to break into professional wrestling succeeded, and he started to earn more money. Then, as an actor, Bautista's bank account swelled even more. But with this sudden windfall of money in such a short time frame, Bautista recklessly spent a lot of cash. The actor purchased extravagant cars — Lamborghinis, Bentleys, Mercedes. Looking back on his financial decisions, Bautista regretted not buying his mom a house sooner and said, "I wasted all that money, and I could've done a lot of good things with that money. I could've helped people; I could've helped animals," he told Men's Health. "But honestly, I was miserable and I was just trying to buy happiness," the star admitted. He later bought his mom a home, and as of 2021, had amassed an estimated net worth of $16 million.

The not-so-sunny side of life for Dave Bautista

Whether on the red carpet, at Comic-Con, or any number of other events, Dave Bautista is often spotted wearing his signature yellow tinted sunglasses. Even for interviews, Bautista sometimes wears sunglasses with a colored lens (like those ruby lenses he wore for a discussion with the Tampa Bay Times). Similar to Bono, Bautista wears the specific eyewear as more than just a fashion statement. In fact, the actor sports the spectacles partly for mental health reasons. Bautista revealed in an interview for Men's Health that he deals with "terrible social anxiety." Reportedly, Bautista first started using sunglasses to help with his anxiety when he became a public figure as a wrestler.

To help combat the overwhelming feelings, Bautista felt more comfortable wearing glasses. He referred to his eyewear choice as "a pacifier, a therapeutic thing." He even wore the yellow shades with a full-on tuxedo — bow-tie and all — at the Venice Film Festival in support of his movie "Dune." Bautista said of these publicity events, "When press junkets go on for days and days, I struggle." More than just his glasses, Bautista said he felt better in these public scenarios with "people that I really love to kind of just grasp on to, and they make me happy." In the case of the "Dune" press tour, Bautista was besties with his co-star Josh Brolin.