St. Paul gymnast shines with family support at U.S. Championships

Looking at the latest batch of medals earned by their daughter, Suni Lee's parents are beaming with pride.

"Not only that we're her parents, she's making history in the Hmong community," said John Lee, Suni's dad. "She's the first Hmong-American to go this far in the sport."

Over the weekend, the 18-year-old from St. Paul put on quite a show at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships, coming in first in the uneven bars, second in the balance beam and second all-around behind seven-time champ Simone Biles.

Almost overshadowing Suni's amazing achievement is the fact that her parents were in the audience, watching her compete in-person for the first time in three years.

suni lee

Suni Lee (right) poses with her parents before the U.S. Gymnastics Championships. (Family)

"Going up there, seeing her compete in four events and doing so well," said Yeev Thoj, Suni's mom. "It was incredible, amazing. She did really well."

Her father John was partially paralyzed after falling from a ladder a couple of days before Nationals in 2019, leaving him only able to watch her compete online and give pep talks through FaceTime and texts. He's recovered enough and her entire family made the 16-hour drive to Ft. Worth, Texas to watch her strut her stuff at the U.S. Championships, meeting up for a picture right before her first meet.

"She went out to the floor on the first night and she saw us in the stands, she said, ‘I'm going to make this a good routine.’ And she did great that night," said John Lee.

Lee is set to graduate from South St. Paul High School on Thursday before taking a shot at becoming the first Hmong-American to make the U.S. Olympic team.

No matter what happens, Lee's parents are head over heels over what she has already accomplished.

"She's doing St. Paul proud," said John Lee. "She's doing Minnesota proud and she's doing the Hmong community proud."