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Suni Lee Claims She Was Recently Pepper Sprayed in a Racially Charged Attack: ‘I Just Let It Happen’

Suni Lee Was Pepper Sprayed in Recent Racist Attack: 'I Didn't Do Anything'
Suni Lee. Courtesy Sunisa Lee/Instagram

Gymnast Suni Lee opened up about experiencing racial bias in her daily life, claiming she was recently the victim of a targeted attack.

Related: Stars Who've Struggled With Their Mental Health

Earlier this year, the 18-year-old made history at the Tokyo Olympics, becoming the first-ever Hmong American gymnast to compete for Team USA. While discussing how much things have changed for her since bringing home a gold medal, the athlete told PopSugar about an incident that occurred in Los Angeles earlier this month during a night out with friends, all of whom were of Asian descent.

According to the Auburn University student, a group of people sped by her as she waited for an Uber home with her friends, shouting racist slurs and telling them to “go back to where they came from.” One of the passengers fired pepper spray in Lee’s direction, allegedly hitting her in the arm.

“I was so mad, but there was nothing I could do or control because they skirted off,” the Minnesota native told PopSugar in an interview published on Wednesday, November 10. “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 is currently living in L.A. while competing on season 30 of Dancing With the Stars. “I have all of these expectations on me,” she told the outlet. “On top of that, I put a lot of pressure on myself, so it’s kind of scary.”

The Olympic all-around champion recently told fans that she was going through a difficult time after running out of the DWTS ballroom after performing on Queen night.

“Could def be better,” she said of her mental health during an Instagram Q&A on November 4. “But it’s just a lot on my plate all at one time & a lot of things ppl don’t know about.”

Related: Olympic Athletes: Where Are They Now?

Lee had viewers worried during the November 1 episode as she ran off stage clutching her stomach. Her partner, Sasha Farber, told Us Weekly and other reporters after the show that she had been struggling for a few days.

“I think it was probably the hardest week I’ve ever had on Dancing With the Stars,” the Russian dancer, 37, noted at the time. “The poor girl started to feel really sick on Tuesday, and it got worse and worse. We had to miss rehearsals.”

Farber and the other ballroom pros rallied around Lee as she returned to perform her relay routine that night. During the Monday, November 8, episode, the pair pushed through — and pulled off a perfect score.

Related: 'DWTS' Contestants Who Defended Their Prior Dance Experience

“Mental health is definitely a very sensitive topic for me because it’s hard for me to speak out about anything because I feel like just the whole world is watching me right now,” Lee told Us after her samba. “If I say the wrong thing, people will be like, ‘Oh, she’s just doing it for attention,’ [and] all this stuff. So it’s definitely very hard, but there’s just so much that a lot of people don’t know about, which makes it really difficult when I have to go on social media and see bad comments about myself or people just talking bad about me.”

Farber, for his part, knew his partner would be able to rise above the outside distractions, noting on Monday, “I always tell Suni, like, she has just had this in her system trying to come out, and I’m so glad that it just came out today on the dance floor. … Today was just magical.”

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