(GameSpot) — WWE fans were shocked and saddened to hear the news on the October 22 episode of RAW that Universal Champion Roman Reigns was leaving the company, after revealing he has leukemia. Before exiting the ring, he laid his Universal Championship in the middle of the ring.
During the opening segment of the Monday night series, Reigns came down to the ring, with the title on his shoulder, and gave a heartfelt speech to the fans in attendance and those watching at home, breaking character to reveal that for the past 11 years, he’s been battling leukemia. “My real name is Joe, and I’ve been living with leukemia for 11 years,” explained Reigns. “And unfortunately, it’s back. And because the leukemia is back, I cannot fulfill my that role. I can’t be that fighting champion. And I’m going to have to relinquish the Universal Championship.
A portion of the speech was tweeted out by WWE, which you can see below.
Reigns went on to say that he was diagnosed with leukemia at 22 years old, but the leukemia went quickly into remission. He stated that he didn’t have a job or a home and football was done with him. On top of all that, Reigns had a child on the way.
“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.
“Sometimes life throws you a curve ball. 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.”
Reigns laid the title in the middle of the ring and walked back up the ramp, where his brothers-in-arms Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins met him and gave him a hug. With tears in their eyes, they lined up their fists in the classic Shield pose one more time.