“He’s had I don’t know how many concussions, a broken collar bone, a torn up knee and Achilles [tendon],” Washington told PEOPLE of his son’s brief NFL career. “No, I’m glad it’s over.”
John David graduated from Morehouse College, where his record-breaking D2 college football career led to a brief stint playing in the NFL. He played for the St. Louis Rams in the 2006-07 season, and for the American team Rhein Fire in NFL Europa. When he gave up football for acting, he got his major breakthrough, ironically, by playing football star Ricky Jerret on HBO’s Ballers.
For much more on Denzel Washington, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday
The Equalizer 2 star went on to say that he’s proud that his eldest son has made his own way in Hollywood — which in addition to Ballers includes a role in Spike Lee’s buzzed-about new film BlacKkKlansman — without relying on any major help from his dad.
“That’s my son, I love my boy and I’m just happy he’s his own man, he’s independent,” says Washington. “He’s really good at what he does, and the fact that he’s been fighting to make his own mark, he didn’t want any help from me, I didn’t help him get onto Ballers or anything like that. The only way I helped him get into Ballers was introducing him to football as a kid, so maybe that helped. But I’m just proud of he and all my children (John David, Katia, 30, twins Olivia and Malcolm, 27). My wife did a great job, they are good kids. Humble, hard-working, not afraid of hard work, that’s all you can ask for.”
The Equalizer 2 opens in theaters Friday.