The car rolled six times before it settled on the roadside. Strapped into the passenger seat amid a mess of broken glass and mangled metal, Bi Nguyen had reached a turning point, although she didn't know it then.
Nguyen, who now competes in muay thai and MMA in ONE Championship's 115-pound atomweight division, had already been through a lot.
At seven years old, she emigrated with her parents and seven siblings from Vietnam to Oakland, California. By the time she was 10, she was working in newspaper delivery, often as late as 3 a.m. Then, at 15, she moved, by herself, to live with a friend in Houston.
"I had a lot of misplaced anger," Nguyen, now 30, said of her decision to leave home at such a young age. "I just needed to leave, so I left—I thought—to find myself."
Despite her youth, Nguyen rose to the challenges of life in a new city. She was fearless and learned a lot at a young age.
"I learned all of the lessons of life before I was 17," she said. "I learned how to drive by myself. I paid my bills by myself, got an apartment by myself, went to school by myself."
While Nguyen was able to survive on her own, things eventually took a dangerous turn. The trouble, she says, began like most relationships do: with excitement, with butterflies in the stomach.