Former WWE wrestler Sara Lee has passed away at the age of 30, her family has confirmed in a statement.
Her fellow wrestling stars have been paying tribute to her online, with many expressing their “shock” and sadness at her death.
Who was Sara Lee?
Lee was an American TV personality and professional wrestler, best known for her time with WWE between 2015 and 2016. She was the winner of the WWE competition show Tough Enough in 2015. The show saw participants undergo training to become professional wrestlers, with one male and one female contestant crowned the winners and awarded a contract with WWE.
Lee took part in the sixth season of Tough Enough, winning the season alongside Joshua Bredl, who wrestled under the name Bronson Matthews.
Born on 7 June 1992, Lee grew up in Hope Township in Michigan, where she spent much of her time powerlifting. After graduating from Meridian High School in 2010, she went on to enrol at Delta College, studying medical sonography.
Talking with Edward Pevos on the WWE Tough Enough podcast, Lee said: “If the WWE thing doesn’t work out, I plan on being an ultrasound technician.”
After winning Tough Enough in 2015, Lee made her debut in the ring on 30 January 2016 in a six-Diva tag team match. She was released from her WWE contract on 30 September 2016.
Lee lived in Florida and married fellow former WWE wrestler Cory Weston, whose wrestling name is Wesley Blake. The two tied the knot on 30 December 2017, after having welcomed their daughter into the world on 1 May 2017.
The couple went on to have two more children together - their first son, born 27 February 2019, and their second son, born in 2021.
When did she die?
Lee passed away on Thursday 6 October, at the age of 30. Lee’s mother, Terri, announced her death in a statement posted on Facebook.
She wrote: “It is with heavy hearts we wanted to share that our Sara Weston has gone to be with Jesus. We are all in shock and arrangements are not complete. We respectfully ask that you let our family mourn. We all need prayers, especially Cory and her children.”
Following the news of her death, fellow wrestler Bull James launched a GoFundMe campaign to help Lee’s family with funeral costs.
In the description, James wrote: “We’re all shocked and saddened by the sudden death of Tough Enough winner Sara Lee. As her loving husband, Cory, picks up the pieces and continues to raise their 3 children, the last thing anyone in that position wants to be worried about is money and paying for a funeral and everything else that comes along with it.
“The wrestling community has always been one to come together in the wake of tragedy and this is no different. Every penny raised from this will go directly to Cory and the kids. Thank you all in advance. RIP Sara, you were one of the good ones.”
James had initially set the goal at $20,000, however the page has raised over $60,000 in the 14 hours that it has been live.
Lee’s cause of death has not been revealed. Days prior to her passing, Lee posted a selfie on Instagram marking her return to the gym after battling her “first ever sinus infection”.
She wrote in the caption: “Celebrating finally being healthy enough to go to the gym 2 days in a row! First ever sinus infection kicked my buss #Saraselfie #gains”
Tributes for Sara Lee
Fans, friends, family and fellow wrestlers have taken to social media to share their tributes for Lee after news of her death spread online. The official WWE Twitter account wrote: “WWE is saddened to learn of the passing of Sara Lee. As a former Tough Enough winner, Lee served as an inspiration to many in the sports-entertainment world. WWE offers its heartfelt condolences to her family, friends and fans.”
Wrestling star Saraya, formerly Paige, also tweeted: “This is heartbreakingly tragic. Sending love to her family. Very sweet human who I got the pleasure to know and work with. RIP Sara Lee.”