Celeb Couples
Sunisa Lee and boyfriend Jaylin Smith in matching sweatshirts.

Suni Lee Revealed Her New Interracial Relationship Gets "So Much Hate"

Olympian Suni Lee responds to racist backlash about her new relationship with Jaylin Smith.

No, Suni Lee does not have time for bigoted comments about her relationship. The 18-year-old Olympic gold medalist and Dancing With The Stars alum shared that her new romance with Jaylin Smith — a football player at the University of Southern California — has been met by a wave of racist backlash. And, obviously, she’s having none of it.

While it’s unclear how or when they first met, Lee and Smith (who are both college students — Lee attends Auburn University in Alabama) became Instagram official on Dec. 27, 2021. Shortly after, on Dec. 30, TikTok user @alixphom made a video in support of the couple. The TikToker (whose bio states they’re half Hmong) captioned the video, “I know that Sunisa will be judged by certain eyes in the Hmong Community because her man is Black. LOVE is LOVE, no matter what race or gender you are. Keep doing you QUEEN.”

The next day, Lee responded in the comments section, saying, “This makes me so happy. I’ve received so much hate 😭 they support me when it’s beneficial for them never when it comes to my happiness. Thank you!”

The Hmong community refers to an indigenous group that mostly hails from Southwest China, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, and Myanmar. Lee’s parents are from Laos and now live in Minnesota, where Lee was born. Before she made the U.S. Olympic gymnastics roster in the spring of 2020, her father, John, told Elle magazine, “It would be the greatest accomplishment of any Hmong person in the U.S. ever.” Later, while she was competing as the first Hmong American ever to make the Olympic team, he told TODAY, “My wife, everybody, the whole community’s here and they’re all holding their breath."

Following Lee’s wins in Tokyo, she was the target of a racially charged attack in Los Angeles. On Nov. 10, 2021, she opened up to POPSUGAR about the incident, explaining that she’d been out with friends when another group rushed past them, shouting racist slurs and spraying Lee with pepper spray.

“I was so mad, but there was nothing I could do or control because they skirted off,” she shared. “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.”

This time, however, she's speaking up — and her voice is powerful.