Roman Reigns made a stunning announcement during Monday Night Raw, telling the crowd and viewers at home that he has to forfeit the WWE Universal Championship and he was diagnosed with leukemia.
"My real name is Joe, and I've been living with leukemia for 11 years," the 33-year-old Reigns said at the start of his promo in Providence, Rhode Island, reports ComicBook.com.
Reigns said he was not retiring, pointing out that he has been fighting cancer for 11 years and was sure he could beat it again.
"You know the deal, you know how life is. Life is not fair, it's not all peaches and cream. Sometimes life throws you a curve ball. And right now the best thing for me to do is to go home, to focus on my family and my health," Reigns said. "But I want to make one thing clear, by no means is this a retirement speech."
Reigns said he will be "coming back home" soon.
"And when I do, it's not just going to be about titles and being on top, no it's about a purpose," Reigns explained. "I am coming back because I want to show all of you, the whole world, I want to show my family, my friends, my children and my wife, that when life throws a curve ball at me, I am the type of man that will stand in that batter's box, I will crowd the plate, I will choke up and I will swing for the fences every single time. Because I will beat this and I will be back and you will see me very, very soon."
After making his announcement, the crowd began chanting, "Thank you Roman."
Reigns' cancer had been in remission since 2008. WWE praised Reigns for going public with his leukemia battle, and said he hoped to raise awareness and funds "for research in order to advance cures for the disease."
Reigns has been the WWE Universal Champion since August's SummerSlam and was going to defend the title during the Crown Jewel event in Saudi Arabia on Nov. 2.
Reigns, whose real name is Leati Joseph Anoa'i, has been with the WWE since 2010, when he signed a development deal, notes CBS Sports. He has been a member of the main roster since 2012 and has won the WWE championship three times. He is Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's cousin and the brother of former WWE star Rosey, who died at age 47 last year. His father, Sika Anoa'i, is also a former WWE wrestler.1comments
According to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, leukemia is a cancer that starts in the bone marrow. It is estimated that 381,774 people are living with leukemia or in remission in the U.S.
Photo Credit: WWE