ONE Championship's Angela Lee is opening up about mental health in a big way.
In 2017 Lee was preparing to fight Mei Yamaguchi but suffered a near-fatal car accident when she says she fell asleep at the wheel and the car flipped several times. Now, for the first time, she's revealed that accident wasn't an accident at all but a suicide attempt.
"It’s taken me a long time to get to this place, but I’ve now reached a point where I am comfortable and confident enough to speak the full truth," Lee wrote in the essay. "Six years ago, I tried to end my life. My car crash in November 2017 was not an accident. It was a suicide attempt."
Lee recovered from the accident and went on to fight again multiple times. She met and married the love of her life and they share a child together. But things were not always easy for her.
"I’m 20 years old. Living the dream. I had become the first female world champion in the history of ONE Championship the previous year. Then came back-to-back successful title defenses in 2017. I bought a brand-new car. I met my husband. I got engaged. I was excited to plan a wedding. It was the happiest I’d ever been. Life was good," she wrote. "Looking back now, I had everything I could have wanted at the time, but I didn’t realize it. Didn’t fully appreciate it. Because I had gotten to a place where making weight for that fight was the biggest thing in the world to me."
Lee says that she kept her feelings a secret and then tried to think of anything she could do to get out of her upcoming fight.
"This part is hard to talk about, but I want to be honest here. It's difficult to say and may be difficult to hear, but I need to share the full picture," she wrote. "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. I was trying anything I could think of to escape from the situation I was in and get out of the fight."
In March Lee created Fightstory, a nonprofit organization "dedicated to speaking one’s truth, inspiring hope, and building a community for those struggling with mental health."
Lee explained that it was her sister Victoria's suicide at the age of 18 which inspired Lee to create the organization, and speak out.
"On December 26, 2022, my younger sister, Victoria, took her own life," she wrote. "Fightstory was inspired by Victoria and the remarkable life that she lived at just 18 years old. Fightstory is just as much hers as it is mine. It’s something we created together, to save lives and to try and make the world a better place. We want people to know that although you may feel lonely in your fight with mental health, you are not alone."
Lee has not returned to fighting since the death of her sister.