ST. PAUL - The Minneapolis VA Medical Center may be 4,000 miles from Germany, but there was just no chance John Lee would miss his daughter's moment on the world stage this week.
Sunisa Lee, the 16-year-old gymnastics star from St. Paul, helped the U.S. earn another gold medal in the team competition at the world championships this Tuesday. Her dad, partially paralyzed after falling from a ladder in August, watched from the hospital room in Minneapolis bright and early at 7:30 a.m. local time.
He beamed with pride as the announcers praised Sunisa's performance as "beautiful."
"Making her dad proud at home," they said on the broadcast.
When Sunisa takes the mat again Thursday for the All-Around competition, however, John will no longer have to watch from a hospital bed.
He was discharged Wednesday morning and arrived back at his house, surrounded by family, for the first time in two months.
"It's good to be home," John said. "I can't believe that I'm saying that watching TV at my house is exciting, but it is!"
Despite the distance, John has been in frequent contact with her daughter through FaceTime and texting; Sunisa sent her dad a photo of the gold medal after the U.S. won the team competition.
"The whole team," John said, "is awesome!"
From Germany, Sunisa celebrated her gold medal with her father at the forefront of her mind, according to the Associated Press.
"It was amazing. I almost started crying. It just feels so surreal and I can't even believe that I'm here and I'm a world champion now. That's so crazy for me," she told the AP. "(I was) just thinking about the whole routine and my dad. I'm just super proud of this team."
John's future is still unclear: "I may or may not get my sensation back, so it's a waiting game," he said.
But he's determined to recover in time to possibly travel to Tokyo, if Sunisa qualifies for the 2020 Olympics.
"That's the goal," John said.
And so far, it seems like a pretty good bet.