The Reason 18-Year-Old Bruce Lee Returned To The United States

What is there to say about Bruce Lee that hasn't already been said? He was a performer and athlete whose excellence continues to captivate the world decades after his untimely passing. His undeniable charisma and physical strength and ability made him an instant celebrity, and to many, his death remains a question mark more than a tragic exclamation point at the end of his mortal sentence.

In fact, much of Lee's life is shrouded in mystery, either out of a lack of solid information, or by the performer's own theatrical design, or thanks to the years of urban legend retellings, snowballing and picking up steam until the man became, to the minds of his adoring fans, more mythos than history. Facts become obscured. The best way to approach the events of his life has become, in many cases, to start out with "Well, the story goes..."

By way of example: Lee was born in San Francisco, but moved to Honk Kong with his family when he was three years old. When he was 18, he returned to the US. Why? Well, the story goes...

Bruce leaves

Bruce Lee had already made something of a name for himself before his 18th birthday. He'd appeared in more than a dozen Chinese films, yes, but he had also developed a reputation as a brawler, and his involvement in numerous street brawls had garnered him more than a passing glance from the local constabulary. Lee's parents were informed by the police that if his behavior continued, their son would wind up in jail.

That's enough reason for most parents to try to find greener, less punchable pastures on its own, but the situation got worse. One fight was particularly poorly thought out, according to TV Over Mind, as Bruce wound up punching out the son of a prominent Triad leader. The name of the alleged criminal family isn't mentioned, and the particulars of the fight are hazy, but the potential for retaliation by an organized crime syndicate was apparently enough to convince the Lees to pack up and head for the States.

Or at least, that's how the story goes.