Life hasn’t always been easy for Rene Russo.

While accepting the Best Supporting Actress prize at AARP’s 14th Annual Movies For Grownups Awards Gala, the 60-year-old star thanked her 8th grade Spanish teacher for helping her get through some tough times.

“I’ll skip some decades here, I know it seems like it’ll go on forever, but [thank you] for navigating me through all those f–ked up a–hole football players. They called me Jolly Green Giant. You didn’t keep me from dropping out of high school, but you did keep me from killing myself,” she said in the emotional speech at the Feb. 2. event.

rene russo

Rene at the AARP event on Feb. 2, 2015.

The actress — who won the honor for her recent role in ‘Nightcrawler’ — then expressed gratitude toward her mother, Shirley Balocca Russo, who was in the audience.

Related Story: Rene Russo Reveals, “I Have Bipolar Disorder”

“She always told me to take time to smell the roses,” she said while holding back tears. “Given some of your life challenges, that makes you the best mom in the world.”

Other celebrities honored at the annual Beverly Hills award show included Kevin Costner, Julianne Moore, J.K. Simmons, and Eddie Redmayne.