Roman Reigns' Leukemia Returns, WWE Superstar Relinquishes Universal Championship On 'Raw'

Lorenzo Tanos

WWE superstar Roman Reigns announced on this week's episode of Monday Night Raw that he is relinquishing his Universal Championship due to a battle with leukemia.

In a promo that kicked off this Monday's episode of Raw, Reigns entered the ring in street clothes and spoke to the audience, admitting that he was first diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 22, shortly after his college football career ended, and that the disease had been in remission for the past 11 years.

As noted by the Mirror, Reigns stressed to the live audience at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island, that his speech was not part of a storyline, and that he had no choice but to relinquish his Universal Championship because his leukemia had returned.

"When I was 22-years-old, I was diagnosed with this. And very quickly, I was able to put it in remission," said Reigns.

"But 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. But do you want to know who gave me a chance? The team that gave me a chance was the WWE."
"I will beat this and I will be back, so you will see me very, very soon. Once again, thank you so much, God bless you, and I love you. Believe that."

Roman Reigns, whose real name is Joe Anoa'i, did not immediately enter the wrestling business despite being part of the legendary Anoa'i family, which includes his father, Leati, aka Sika of the Wild Samoans, and his late brother Matt, who previously wrestled in WWE under the name Rosey. He played college football for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, then joined the Canadian Football League's Edmonton Eskimos for one season after he went undrafted in the 2007 NFL Draft.

After his football career ended, Reigns signed a developmental contract with WWE in 2010 and made his main roster debut two years later as one-third of The Shield, alongside fellow developmental products Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. He has since won three WWE Championships and one Universal Championship, as well as one United States, Intercontinental, and World Tag Team title apiece.