Roman Reigns made a heartbreaking announcement on this week's Monday Night Raw, taking the mic to reveal that his leukemia has returned, causing him to step away from the ring effective immediately.
"I feel like I owe everybody an apology," Reigns, real name Joe Anoa'i, told the crowd. "For months, I've come out here and spoke as Roman Reigns and I said a lot of things. I said that I'd be here every single week, I said I'd be a fighting champion, I said I was gonna be consistent and I said I was gonna be a workhorse."
Reigns then revealed that his leukemia had returned, and because of this, WWE's Universal champion was forced to relinquish his title.
"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," 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 was originally diagnosed in 2008, when he was 22, which he called "the hardest time in my life." He quickly went into remission but has been battling the disease ever since.
Despite his diagnosis, Reigns told the crowd that this would not be the last time they see him in a WWE ring.
"Sometimes life throws you a curveball and the best thing for me to do is to go home and focus on my health," he said. "But I want to make one thing clear: By no means is this a retirement speech because after I'm done whupping leukemia's ass, I'm coming back home. And when I do, it's not going to be about titles and being on top, it's about a purpose."
"I'm coming back because I want to show all of you, the whole world, I want to show my family and my children and my wife that when life throws a curveball 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. I will beat this and I will be back so you will see me very, very soon."
After making his announcement, Reigns placed his belt in the ring and walking out before being embraced by his temmates in The Shield, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins.
After the announcement, WWE issued a statement confirming Reigns' leave of absence.
"Tonight on Monday Night Raw, Roman Reigns [aka Joe Anoa'i] announced that he is relinquishing the WWE Universal Championship and taking a leave of absence from WWE as he once again fights leukemia, which had been in remission since late 2008," the statement read, via the Los Angeles Times. "Reigns is taking his battle with leukemia public in an effort to raise awareness and funds for research in order to advance cures for the disease."
Photo Credit: WWE