WWE star Roman Reigns is stepping away from the ring — for now. The athlete revealed during WWE Raw on Monday, October 22, that his leukemia has returned.
Reigns (real name: Leati Joseph Anoaʻi) revealed to the Providence, Rhode Island, crowd that he was relinquishing his championship belt amid his cancer battle.
“The reality is my name is Joe and I’ve been living with leukemia for 11 years and unfortunately it’s back,” he 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.”
Reigns, 33, was first diagnosed with leukemia when he was 22. While choking back tears, he said it was “the hardest time” of his life, but WWE helped him through it.
“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 you want to know who gave me a chance? The team that gave me a chance was the WWE,” he continued. “This is by no means a retirement speech. I will beat this, and I will be back, so you will see me very, very soon.”
Reigns previously played football at Georgia Tech. He was signed by the WWE in 2010.