TAMPA (FOX 13) - Hulk Hogan has apologized for his racist rant caught on video. It's the first time he's spoken about it since the video was leaked.
But, what has people in South Tampa talking is his explanation for why the words came naturally.
Back in July, it was revealed that Hogan repeatedly used the "n" word in a leaked sex tape, a tape at the center of a $100-million lawsuit. Though it was recorded almost a decade ago, the racial slurs cost him his job with WWE and his livelihood.
"I am not a racist. I never should have said what I said," Hogan said Monday in an interview with Good Morning America.
Hogan asked for forgiveness in the emotional interview, saying those words came during a shaky time. He was angry with his daughter and battling depression and suicidal thoughts. But Hogan, who graduated from Robinson High School also claims South Tampa had an influence.
"A lot of people need to realize you inherit things from your environment and where I grew up was South Tampa," Hogan said. "It was a really rough neighborhood, very low income and all my friends we greeted each other saying that word. The word was just thrown around like it was nothing."
Hogan continued, "If everybody at their lowest point was judged on one thing they said and all of a sudden, your whole career was wiped out today because of something you said 10-or-20-years ago, it'd be a sad world. People get better every day. People get better."
People living in South Tampa now say that's not the area they know, or the South Tampa they want the country to know.
"That is not South Tampa," said Dede Craig. "South Tampa is a nice place to live."
"People here are embracing and welcoming of people of all different colors," explained Fred Schmid. "To blame it on a town doesn't seem fair to but to have him have a second chance I think is fair as well."
Lifelong Hulkamaniacs think so, too.
"For this sport, he's an icon," said Christopher Jacobson. "He made an honest mistake. He's accepted it. And I believe he deserves to be forgiven for that."
Jacobson is not alone. Monday night at Amalie Arena, Hulk t-shirts could be spotted all among the crowd attending WWE's Raw.
Though the WWE dropped Hulk Hogan, loyal fans like Jacobson have not.
"Without Hulk Hogan, we would not be where we are now," he added.
Hogan didn't stop at saying "sorry." He wants to go one step further by raising awareness about the use of racial slurs. He also hopes to one day get the chance to wrestle again.
WWE commented Monday saying it "remains steadfast in its decision."