(WCMH) – The WWE’s biggest active star, Roman Reigns, announced Monday that he has leukemia and is stepping away from the ring.
Reigns, whose real name is Joe Anoa’i, made the announcement during Monday’s live broadcast of Raw.
“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 cannot 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.”
Anoa’i said he was first diagnosed with leukemia in 2008, at the age of 22. He said he went into remission quickly.
“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. By you wanna know who gave me a chance? The team that gave me a chance was the WWE,” said Anoa’i.
The WWE released a statement about Monday’s announcement.
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. 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.