Roman Reigns Shows us that Even the Strongest Amongst Us Aren’t Safe
Joe Anoa’i has been coming to the ring to begin WWE’s Monday Night Raw program nearly every week for quite a while as his wrestling character Roman Reigns, so there was no reason to think anything out of the ordinary when he did it again the other day.
That was until he started to talk.
Anoa’i had been getting booed a lot, even though he was the company’s top “good guy” character, but this time the boos quickly turned to silence.
I feel like I owe everyone an apology. For months, maybe even a whole year, I’ve come out here as Roman Reigns and said I’d come out here every week, that I’d be a fighting champion, that I was going to be consistent, that I was going to be a workhorse — but that’s all lies.
It’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. I’m not going to 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.
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.
But do you want to know who gave me a chance? The team that gave me a chance was the WWE. And when I finally made it to the main roster, I was on the road and they put me in front of you, the WWE Universe, and to be honest, you all have made my dreams come true.
And it didn’t matter if you cheered me, it didn’t matter if you booed me, you’ve always reacted to me and that is the most important thing, and for that I have to say thank you so much. But you all know the deal and how life is.
Life’s not always fair, it’s not all peaches and cream. Sometimes life throws you a curve ball. And right now, the best thing for me is to go home, focus on my family and my health.
I want to make one thing clear,” he said. “By no means is this a retirement speech. Because once I’m done whipping leukaemia’s ass, I’m coming back home. And when I do it’s not going to be about titles and being on top, it’s about a purpose.
I’m coming back because I want to show all of you, the whole world, my family, my friends, my children and my wife, that when life throws a curveball at me, I am the type of man that will stand in that batter’s box, I will crowd the plate, I will choke up and I will swing for the fences every single time.
Because I will beat this, and I will be back and you will see me very, very soon. Once again thank you so much, god bless you and I love you. Believe that.
The silence eventually turned to cheers and “Thank you Roman” chants as Anoa’i choked back tears walking up the ramp, where he eventually was joined in a group hug and cry by his fellow wrestlers and close friends, Seth Colby Lopez (Seth Rollins) and Jonathan Good (Dean Ambrose).
I must confess, I did not watch this live but after I was told about it, I viewed it online.
And I am not ashamed to say that after I was done with the video, I cried uncontrollably.
I do not know Joe Anoa’i and I had never even heard of him before the other night.
But now I am praying like hell for him and his family that he makes it through this and comes back stronger than ever.
The entire situation is absolutely awful and serves as a horrible reminder that sometimes even the strongest among us can be hit with terrible illness.
No matter how busy you are, please make sure you take time everyday to tell the people you love how much they mean to you.
And if you can, I urge you to use some of your resources to help people fighting horrible diseases like this, even if it is nothing more than a $5 or $10 donation.
I personally recommend St. Jude, Ronald McDonald House, Sloan Kettering, or American Cancer Society, but there are so many incredible charities that do the Lord’s work and are well worth your time and money.
Whether it is cancer, heart disease, or whichever other illness you choose, please consider doing your part to help make a difference.
As Joe Anoa’i’s case shows, nobody is safe, not even one of the biggest, toughest guys on television.
What is happening to him is heartbreaking, but let’s use it as motivation for the rest of us to get more involved and try to help chip away at these diseases so that someday — maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday — they will no longer exist.
If you're interested in writing for International Policy Digest - please send us an email via firstname.lastname@example.org