Joe Anoa'i played defensive tackle for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. In 2006, he was named first team All-Atlantic Coast Conference. He was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Minnesota Vikings and was later signed to the practice squad of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
In 2008, he played for the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League.
The Family Business
After leaving football, he was trained to become a wrestler by his father and Uncle Afa. In 2010, he signed a developmental deal with WWE and wrestled for their developmental territory, Florida Championship Wrestling, under the name of Roman Leakee. Around the time they changed were rebranded NXT, Roman Leakee was also given a new name, Roman Reigns.
A few weeks after being given his new name, he made his WWE television debut at Survivor Series 2012 as one-third of The Shield alongside Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose.