Anoa’i said he was diagnosed 11 years ago. The disease was in remission until recently.
“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,” Anoa’i said on Raw. “I will beat this, I will be back, and you will see me very, very soon.”
Anoa’i is taking a leave of absence from the WWE and relinquishing the Universal Championship, according to a statement from the WWE.
“Reigns (Anoa’i) 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,” the statement says.
Anoa’i is one of many from his family to be in the WWE. His cousins are WWE wrestlers, Joshua Fatu (Jey Uso) and Jonathan Fatu (Jimmy Uso). Jonathan’s wife, Trinity Fatu, is WWE wrestler Naomi.
“It was very moving to see all the support and everyone’s reaction. We have known about his leukemia, and he has fought it before,” Trinity Fatu said. “He is a fighter, and he has all the love and support. He will get through it there is no doubt about that.”
At Georgia Tech, Anoa’i was a three-year starter at defensive tackle from 2003-06. He was a team captain for his final season with the Jackets. He was a first-team all-Atlantic Coast Conference honoree as a senior in 2006 and finished his collegiate career with 12 sacks and 29.5 tackles for loss.
“On behalf of the entire Georgia Tech athletics family, I send positive thoughts and well-wishes to one of our own, football letterwinner Joe Anoa’i — aka Roman Reigns,” Georgia Tech Athletics Director Todd Stansbury said in a statement. “I’m confident that leukemia will be no match for the tenacity and determination that Joe has always displayed on the football field and in the wrestling ring, and which he will undoubtedly bring to this new battle.
“Above all, Joe is an outstanding person, and we wish him and his family nothing but the very best. We can’t wait to see Joe back on The Flats very soon.”