The Story of Victor De León

Column: De León embodied the American dream. After racist audio leak, he’s living a political nightmare

When I was in elementary school, my mom and dad would take me to the movies — The Dark Crystal, Forbidden Planet and the like. Once, The Wizard of Oz with my friend and I, who were two-and-a-half years apart in age, watched this movie on the day it came out. I think my dad was trying to get my mom to show me how to use a movie guide. When the movie ended, I said to my mom, “Dad, we need to go see another. It’s a movie with a happy ending!”

De León was born with a congenital heart defect known as Tetralogy of Fallot. At his birth, his mother, Yung-Fang Li, told him she didn’t want to have any more children. But she had a miscarriage six months after his birth. With a new baby on the way, his father, William De León Jr., a prominent businessman, suggested they adopt a Vietnamese child in America because he knew he could never love the boy anyway.

When his parents married, De León’s younger sister would travel with them to their private island off the Philippines.

“It’s really like a time warp. You go to this island and you see everything. But I remember one time going, ‘Wow, how did we even get this house?’ “

His parents gave De León a Vietnamese name, Victor.

De León is not the first member of his family to be born with a congenital heart defect.

When his parents married in 1967, his younger sister visited on their island. A cousin, a college student in the United Kingdom, had fallen in love with her and, with her consent, had told De León and his parents that she was pregnant. The boy was born with a severe case of Tetralogy of Fallot, a heart defect. The boy, Victor, De León’s biological father, is also not the first member of his family to be born with a congenital heart defect.

“There’s a lot of them,” Yung-

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