Suni Lee was the victim of a racist attack in a recent anti-Asian hate crime, the Olympian revealed in a new interview with Pop Sugar. Lee, who is currently competing on Dancing With the Stars, shared the details of a horrifying attack last week in which she was pepper-sprayed while out with her friends, all of whom were of Asian descent. The group was startled by a group speeding by in a car yelling racist slurs like "ching chong" and telling them to "go back to where they came from."
One of the passengers, Lee recalled, sprayed her arm with pepper spray as the car sped off. "I was so mad, but there was nothing I could do or control because they skirted off," she said now of the incident. "I didn't do anything to them, and having the reputation, it's so hard because I didn't want to do anything that could get me into trouble. I just let it happen."
Lee said it's difficult for her to speak up about the attack, which occurs amid a major rise in crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States, but she knows using her voice is important. According to a study by California State University, San Bernardino, hate crimes against Asian-Americans has increased 164% in 2021.
Last week, the gymnast shared on Instagram that she was struggling after getting sick and running off the Dancing With the Stars stage, revealing on her Story that something else was going on beyond her tough week in in the ballroom. Asked how she was holding up mentally, Lee answered, "Could def be better. But it's just a lot on my plate all at one time & a lot of things ppl don't know about."
Lee and her pro partner, Sasha Farber, bounced back in Monday's show, earning a perfect score for the first time all season. "Last week was rough," Lee said before performing a samba to "All for You" by Janet Jackson. "I literally ran off the stage on live TV. When I was backstage, I was more embarrassed than anything but I was not about to throw up on national TV."