WWE wrestler Roman Reigns is facing the biggest fight of his life.
During Monday Night Raw, the 33-year-old former football player revealed that he is battling leukemia for the second time and is relinquishing the WWE Universal Championship to take a leave of absence.
"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," he told a stunned crowd on Monday night. "I can't be that fighting champion."
Despite having to give up the title, the star made it clear that he is hopeful. "I'm not gonna 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," Reigns continued.
However, he was honest about the toll the disease previously took on him. "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," the pro recalled.
"Do you want to know who gave me a chance? The team that gave me a chance was the WWE," he said graciously to a tearful crowd. "When I finally made it to the main roster and I was on the road, they put me in front of all of you—the WWE universe...and to be honest y'all have made my dreams come true."
Unfortunately, those dreams have been put on hold as Reigns faces this personal fight publicly in an effort to raise awareness and funds for research to reach advance cures.
In addition to fans, Reigns has the support of his wife of four years, Galina Joelle Becker, and his daughter and twin sons.