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MMA fighter Angela Lee unveils 2017 car crash was a suicide attempt, discloses sister Victoria took her own life

In a heartfelt revelation, ONE Championship’s Angela Lee opens up about her car accident, revealing it was a suicide attempt, and shares her sister Victoria Lee’s tragic story. Angela’s journey from crisis to courage and her mental health advocacy.

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HAWAII: In a heartfelt revelation on Tuesday (19 Sept), ONE Championship’s atomweight champion, Angela Lee, shared a deeply personal and emotional journey via a video uploaded on ONE Championship’s YouTube channel.

She disclosed that her car accident in 2017 was not an accident, but a suicide attempt.

Angela Lee also made the first public acknowledgment of her 18-year-old younger sister, Victoria Lee, tragically taking her own life on Boxing Day the previous year.

Victoria Lee, affectionately known as “The Prodigy,” had garnered a 3-0 record as a fighter within the ONE martial arts organisation.

Her untimely passing was confirmed by Angela Lee on 7 January, though the family initially chose to keep the cause of death private.

This tragedy left Angela in a state of profound grief, causing her to step away from competition.

Contemplating retirement, Angela Lee will soon make a significant announcement about her future during ONE Fight Night 14 next week in Singapore.

From crisis to courage: Angela Lee’s inspiring tale

Angela Lee found the courage to reveal her truth through an article she penned for The Players Tribune.

She wrote, “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.”

She went on to share that six years ago, at the age of 21, she attempted to end her own life.

Her life-changing moment occurred when she was preparing for a title defense against Mei Yamaguchi in Singapore.

A few weeks before the fight, a car crash in Hawaii left Angela with a concussion, minor burns, and a back injury.

Initially, Angela had claimed she had “fell asleep at the wheel,” as reported by South China Morning Post.

However, in her recent article, she acknowledged it as a suicide attempt.

She confessed, “For the longest time, I blocked that reality out of my mind in order to ‘protect myself’ – I put up barriers as a defense mechanism, to try and protect my mind and my heart from what had actually happened.”

Even after years of healing, it remained a painful and challenging topic for her to confront.

At the time of the incident, Angela Lee had already become the youngest female world champion in MMA at the age of 20, defending her title successfully multiple times in ONE Championship.

Yet, the mounting pressure, stress, and expectations, combined with struggles related to her weight cut for the Yamaguchi fight, pushed her to a breaking point.

Angela wrote, “In the weeks leading up to the crash, I was convinced that I couldn’t tell anyone what I was feeling, about all the thoughts I was having.

“I didn’t want to let my family down.

So I was going to do everything in my power to make sure that wouldn’t happen.

That’s what I told myself,” she added.

Angela shared, “Everything came crashing down on November 6, the longest night of my life.

That evening, I was trying to drop a few more pounds.

I went to my room, and I broke down crying.

I remember pacing through my room and walking over to the scale,” she said.

As she stepped on it, she still had to shed 12 pounds (5.44 kilograms).

ONE Championship employs a hydration testing system designed to encourage fighters to achieve their weight goals gradually through dietary adjustments, rather than resorting to dehydrating methods.

This system was put in place as a response to the tragic loss of Chinese flyweight Yang Jian Bing, who passed away at the age of 21 in December 2015 due to complications stemming from extreme weight-cutting practices.

Lee penned, “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.”

She explored every possible avenue to free herself from the challenging circumstances and avoid the impending fight.

When none of her attempts bore fruit, she made the choice to enter her car, surrendering the outcome to fate.

Additionally, she clarified her desire to put an end to the overwhelming emotions she was experiencing, perceiving it as her sole recourse.

She went on to admit that her fear of divulging her inner turmoil, coupled with concerns about her family’s and the world’s perception of her, kept her from voicing her struggles.

“I didn’t want to be a disappointment to anyone,” Lee stated.

Lee recounted how she pressed the accelerator to its limits near her residence, precisely at a location where a gulch steeply descended from the highway.

She recalled turning the steering wheel abruptly, causing the car to swerve and ultimately collide with an object, setting off a relentless series of rolls.

After her car finally came to a halt, she remained inside it, suspended upside down, attempting to come to terms with the overwhelming situation for a considerable period.

“To tell you the truth, I didn’t care if I lived or died at that moment. So surviving, trying to live, after all that had happened was extremely difficult.

Adding to the difficulty was the fact that nobody was aware of the true nature of the events that had unfolded.

Victoria’s legacy and Angela Lee’s journey to mental health advocacy

After the loss of her sister, Lee made the decision to share her story with the world.

This profound experience motivated her to establish the non-profit mental health organization, Fightstory.

Fightstory was born out of Victoria’s inspiring life, cut tragically short at just 18 years old.

Lee explained, “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.”

In light of these developments, Lee’s father and coach, Ken Lee, has retired from coaching altogether.

He had coached not only Victoria Lee but also his two sons: Christian Lee, the reigning lightweight and welterweight MMA champion in ONE, and 17-year-old amateur fighter Adrian Lee.

(From left to right) Christian Lee, Victoria Lee, Adrian Lee, and Angela Lee. Photo: Instagram/angelaleemma

Following the closure of the family’s United MMA Hawaii gym after Victoria’s passing, it has now reopened.

Christian Lee is poised to make a comeback in ONE Championship next year.

Furthermore, chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong expressed his anticipation, telling Adrian Lee, “I can’t wait to see your debut” in ONE Championship.


If you or someone you know is grappling with suicidal thoughts, assistance and support are accessible.

Samaritans of Singapore Hotline: 1767

Institute of Mental Health’s Helpline: 6389 2222

Singapore Association for Mental Health Helpline: 1800 283 7019

You can discover a directory of global helplines on this page.

In case someone you are aware of is facing an imminent threat, please dial 24-hour emergency services.

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