updated 07/17/2012 AT 7:00 PM ET
•originally published 07/17/2012 AT 6:00 PM ET
Life was not easy for Sage Moonblood Stallone, particularly as a child, when he had little connection with his busy Hollywood superstar father.
“I was an easygoing guy, and school was pretty much people trying to challenge me to a fight, y’know, saying, ‘Rambo! Rocky!’ ” Sage, who died unexpectedly last week at age 36, told PEOPLE in 1996, when he was 20.
It galled him because his father, Sylvester Stallone, who had become famous playing a fictional boxer, wasn’t often in his son’s corner due to his demanding career. So, when Sage got the chance to play opposite his dad as Rocky Balboa Jr. in 1990’s Rocky V, it was a painful as well as cathartic experience.