Roman Reigns announced at the top of Raw that he’s been living with leukemia for the past 11 years and it has unfortunately returned, meaning he’ll have to relinquish the Universal Championship.
Reigns said, “The reality is, my real name is Joe and I’ve been living with leukemia for 11 years. And, unfortunately it’s back. And because the leukemia is back I cannot fulfill my role, I cannot be that fighting champion, and I’m gonna to have to relinquish the Universal Championship.”
“I’m not looking for sympathy,” Roman continued. “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 gonna lie, that was the hardest time in 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 you wanna know who gave me a chance? The team that gave me a chance was WWE.”
Reigns also adamantly stated that he’s not retiring and plans to return once he’s been able to fight off cancer. “Once I’m done whooping leukemia’s ass once again, I’m coming home.”
He was then joined on-stage by Dean Ambrose and a tearful Seth Rollins as they pounded fists.
Michael Cole, Renee Young and Corey Graves spoke to the audience after the commercial break and reminded viewers through tears that the characters you see on WWE TV are also real people.
The press release from WWE notes that Roman made his battle with leukemia public “in an effort to raise awareness and funds for research in order to advance cures for the disease.”
Watch his speech below.