WWE star Roman Reigns has announced in a shocking statement Monday night that his real-life battle with leukemia will force him to step away from the ring effective immediately.
The 33-year-old Reigns, real name is Joe Anoa’i, opened Monday’s episode of Raw with the reveal that was anything but a storyline or predetermined moment.
WWE’s universal champion said he was originally diagnosed back in 2008 at age 22. Though he quickly went into remission, he has been fighting the disease since.
Roman Reigns apologized to the Providence, Rhode Island, crowd for not being the workhorse and fighting champion his character aimed to be. He also announced he will relinquish the title effective immediately.
“That’s all lies and it’s a lie because the reality is my name is Joe and I’ve been living with leukemia for 11 years and unfortunately it’s back,” Anoa’i said.
“Because the leukemia is back, I can’t fulfill my role. I can’t be that fighting champion and I’m going to have to relinquish the universal championship. I’m not going to lie, I’ll take every prayer you can send my way but I’m not looking for sympathy, I’m not looking for you to feel bad for me because I have faith.”
“When I was 22 years old I was diagnosed with this. And very quickly I was able to put it in remission.
“But I’m not going to lie, that was the hardest time of my life. I didn’t have a job, I didn’t have any money, I didn’t have a home and I had a baby on the way and football was done with me.
“But do you want to know who gave me a chance – the team that gave me a chance was the WWE.
“And when I finally made it to the main roster, I was on the road and they put me in front of you, the WWE Universe, and to be honest you all have made my dreams come true.