In 2017, Angela Lee was involved in a crash that forced her out of a scheduled ONE Championship title defense. In the immediate aftermath, she said she fell asleep at the wheel during a drive to practice. On Tuesday, Lee revealed it was actually a suicide attempt.
In a heart-wrenching and inspiring essay for The Players’ Tribune, Lee opened up about her struggles with mental health.
The pressure of defending her title built within her head. While trying to make weight for the title tilt, Lee believed everything revolved around that singular fight.
“I couldn’t stop thinking about the shame that would result if I wasn’t able to make the fight. As someone who had never missed any competition in her entire life, that terrified me. It became all-encompassing. And, ultimately, I got to a point where I would rather take myself out of the equation than deal with what might come,” Lee wrote.
After not seeing the numbers on the scale that she had hoped to see, Lee, self-admittedly, broke down. She wanted to take herself out of the fight.
“At one point, when everyone else in my house was asleep, I went to the bathroom and literally tried to break my own arm. Then I tried to give myself a concussion,” Lee recalled.
“I was trying anything I could think of to escape from the situation I was in and get out of the fight.”
“When those things didn’t work, I decided to get in my car and leave it up to fate to see what happens next.”
But the story goes beyond just herself. In revealing why she is talking about this now, Lee announced that her sister, Victoria Lee, passed away last December by taking her own life.
The news of Victoria’s passing devastated the MMA community. The vibrant and talented rising star had captivated the industry with her three bouts in ONE. However, nobody knew the darkness that was taking over.
In a video released by ONE of Angela telling her story, the ONE atomweight MMA champion talked about her new nonprofit, Fightstory.
“Fightstory was created because of Victoria. She was the most selfless person I knew. She would want her passing to mean something, to save lives,” Lee said in the video.
“Fightstory is a mental health non-profit organization created by combat athletes for fighters of all walks of life to share their story, inspire hope, and build a community for all to thrive in their mental and physical wellness journey. We believe stories can save lives.
Lee will return to ONE on Friday, Sep. 29, at ONE Fight Night 14 to discuss her future in the sport. No matter her decision, nothing will be more remarkable than her strength to open up and detail her story.
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