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By: Joshua Berlinger, CNN

(KDKA/CNN) — Professional wrestler Leati Joseph Anoaʻi, better known by his stage name Roman Reigns, has announced that he is stepping away from the ring due to an ongoing fight against leukemia.

Reigns, a former football player who has since become one of World Wrestling Entertainment’s most popular personalities, announced Monday that he had been living with cancer for 11 years and that it had returned.

He said he would relinquish his claim to the WWE’s Universal Championship as he focuses on battling leukemia.

“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 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,” Reigns said in an emotional speech Monday in Rhode Island to kick off WWE’s Monday Night Raw program.

He thanked the WWE for giving him a chance after his football career had ended.

“I want to make one thing clear — by no means is this a retirement speech,” Reigns said. “I will beat this and I will be back, so you will see me very very soon.”

The crowd cheered and chanted “Roman, Roman” as he placed his Universal Title belt on the floor and left the ring.

In the moments after his announcement, Reigns was met by several other superstars backstage. It was an emotional outpouring of support for one of their own.

Some of the biggest names in wrestling offered their support.

On Tuesday, Vince McMahon tweeted, “A warrior, through and through. @WWERomanReigns, your entire #WWE family stands with you. #ThankYouRoman”

“You have given us your everything including a courageously vulnerable moment. We, your WWE family, give you all of our love and support,” John Cena tweeted.

“Stunned. I liked and respected him from the moment I met him. Sending my very best wishes and prayers for you, Joe,” Mick Foley tweeted.

(TM and © Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The CNN Wire contributed to this report.)