Taking Hiatus to Battle Relapsed Cancer, WWE Star Roman Reigns Isn't Looking for Sympathy

Revealing that he has been battling leukemia for 11 years, the 33-year-old wrestler says that he gives up WWE Universal Championship to fight the disease.

AceShowbiz - WWE Superstar Roman Reigns has to trade his WWE belt for hospital garb. The professional wrestler, whose real name is Leati Joseph Anoa'i, made a shocking announcement on "Raw" on Monday, October 22 that he has been battling leukemia for 11 years and, unfortunately, the disease is back.

Taking the ring in street clothes and breaking character, he explained why he didn't appear at WWE live shows this past weekend. "For months now, maybe even a full year, 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 that I'd be consistent and I said that I'd be a workhorse but...that's all lies," he said.

"That's a lie because the reality is...my real name is Joe...and I've been living with leukemia for 11 years. And unfortunately, it's back," he added. And because of the disease, "I'm going to have to relinquish the Universal Championship," he said.

Asking fans to send his prayers, he continued, "I'm not looking for sympathy. I'm not looking for you to feel bad for me because I have faith." He went on sharing about the last time he was battling the disease, "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 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. The team that gave me a chance was the WWE."

Reigns took off his belt and laid it in the middle of the ring. Many audience members were shocked and left in tears following his announcement. But he remains hopeful that he will be back in the ring soon, saying, "By no means is this a retirement speech. I will beat this, I will be back, and you will see me very, very soon."

Reigns was then joined by his The Shield brothers, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins, on the entrance ramp. Rollins could be seen holding back tears as he showed his support for his friend and embraced Reigns on stage.

Confirming Reigns' hiatus, WWE said in a media release, "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." According to WWE, the 33-year-old former gridiron football player "had been in remission since late 2008."

Fellow WWE stars have sent their best wishes to Reigns. Karl Anderson tweeted, "About to board my flight to Newark and hearing news about my #GoodBrother and one of the hardest working, strongest brothers I know @WWERomanReigns, got a pit in my stomach. My family throwing so many prayers at you.. Love you bro."

Mandy Rose also sent his support, writing, "Sending my thoughts and prayers your way @WWERomanReigns ... Thank you and stay strong!" Ric Flair added, "My Family And I Are Thinking Of You And Are Keeping You In Our Prayers! We Are Here For You!"

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