Leati Joseph Anoaʻi, also known as Roman Reigns in WWE, revealed he has leukemia, and relinquished his WWE Universal Championship title on Monday Night Raw. The news was a shock to their audience, considering Reigns' prominence in the organization over the past several years, being booked as champion.
"My real name is Joe, and I've been living with leukemia for 11 years," Anoa'i said. "And unfortunately, it's back. And 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."
He addressed the crowd, breaking the fourth wall and spoke on the reaction some have had to his character, and how WWE supported him.
"But you wanna know who gave me a chance? The team that gave me a chance was the WWE," continued Reigns. "When I finally made it to the main roster, and I was on the road, they put me in front of you, the WWE Universe, and y'all have made my dreams come true. It didn't matter if you cheered me. It didn't matter if you booed me. You've always reacted and that's the most important thing, and for that, I have to say thank you so much."
He finished up on a hopeful note, saying, "Sometimes life throws you a curveball. And right now, the best thing for me to do is to go home and focus on my family and my health... But I want to make one thing clear. By no means is this a retirement speech. After I'm done whooping leukemia's ass once again, I'm coming back home. And when i do, it's not just gonna be about titles and being on top. It's about a purpose. I will beat this, and I will be back, and you will see me very, very soon." After, he laid the title in the middle of the ring, and walked up the ramp, where he was met by Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins, his partners in The Shield, and they did their iconic pose with tears in their eyes.