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On Oct. 22, 2018. It was the last episode of Monday Night Raw before a highly-anticipated Crown Jewel pay-per-view. Roman Reigns – scheduled to defend the WWE Universal Championship that weekend – stood in the center of the ring, and let the world know of a secret he had been keeping from everybody.
What Roman Reigns announced sent shockwaves throughout the world:
“I’ve been living with leukemia for 11 years. And unfortunately, it’s back.”
And with those simple words, everything changed.
That was almost four years ago, but Reigns’ passionate speech to the WWE Universe still resonates to this day. To call his recovery from a cancer diagnosis impressive is an understatement. At this very moment, he is currently the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion and showing no signs of slowing down. His recovery isn’t just impressive — it’s historically incredible.
Recently, Roman Reigns appeared as a guest on Logan Paul’s IMPAULSIVE podcast, where he opened up about the battle with leukemia that has followed him throughout most of his adult life.
As many fans know, the man known as the “Head of the Table” is much more soft-spoken and easygoing when he isn’t performing inside a WWE ring, so it wasn’t a surprise at all when Reigns spoke openly and honestly about his initial diagnosis, the personal toll it took, and the steps he had to take to overcome the odds.
During the podcast, Logan Paul wasted no time respectfully asking Reigns about his initial diagnosis, which happened when he was slated to make a run in the NFL after he had finished college, during rookie camp for the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings in 2007.
Although he wasn’t officially diagnosed with leukemia until his football days were over, it was during Vikings camp when he first found out about his elevated white blood cell count, which eventually led doctors to diagnose him with leukemia.
Reigns was frank and honest about how those first blood tests came about during what he thought was his first step towards a career in the NFL to boot:
“I got up to Minnesota, did rookie camp. Woke up before practice, we did all the blood labs and everything, all the standard physicals that you do. Went through practice – it was a non-padded practice, but it’s still, you’re doing some stuff – you’re still competing. Had a fairly good practice, and then we watched film. As soon as I came out of film, the whole training staff was right there, and I’m looking like … man, hopefully, it’s this guy behind me that they’re getting … but no, they were pointing at me," he said.
Reigns described hearing this news as “so overwhelming that it wasn’t even believable,” and went on to describe his emotion upon registering the news and revealed that he was cut from the team at that point due to the tests that came back:
“I mean, coming straight out of college, a division one football player — you’re supposed to be kinda peak health, right? Like, you never would expect that. So it put a huge asterisk next to my name when it came to the NFL. So, it was just an uphill battle from there… they sent me home. Once we got all the proper oncology work back and the bloodwork back, they ended up releasing me. There was nothing we could do at that point.”
Reigns went on to confirm that his girlfriend was pregnant at that point with their first child, which understandably stunned Logan Paul and the rest of the podcast.
“That was my introduction to manhood,” Reigns said matter-of-factly.
Nothing like a leukemia diagnosis and a baby on the way to permanently slam the door shut on your childhood. “I’m still finding out a lot of things about myself,” Reigns added.
Reigns kept up his candid demeanor as he shared who he leaned on when he first was diagnosed with leukemia, crediting his family — namely, his wife, Galina Becker, and his mom for being “solid as a rock” and giving him all the support in the world. “I was so fortunate to have that security blanket – that support,” Reigns said.
Reigns spent a good amount of time on the podcast discussing his own personal growth through his struggles with his health issues, and the WWE Universe will be happy to know that the champ is only getting better with age: “As I’ve gotten older, empathy is something I’ve had to work on. I look and I see through the lens of different perspectives, so I have that understanding as a human. But at the same time, when I run into tough sh-t, I push forward. The negative stuff? It ain’t for me. We’re gonna move forward, lock-in, and create something positive here. Because I’m a glass-half-full kind of guy.”
Clearly, Roman Reigns pulled no punches during the interview as he gave fans around the world an inside look at those first few days when his entire life changed via routine blood tests. It’s a testament to Reigns himself that not only did he not let those early warning signs cause him to crater, but he truly moved forward, locked in, and created something positive.
That positive turned into him becoming one of WWE’s all-time greats and the foundation of the company that he represents.
And while it’s currently unknown who will be the next WWE Superstar to step up to the “Head of the Table” and try to dethrone Reigns as the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion, one thing’s for sure: Roman Reigns has already proved he can beat anyone — and anything — in his path.
You can watch Roman Reigns' latest exploits and catch up with the entire WWE Universe on Peacock.
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