Embattled Miss USA Tara Conner, who was given a second chance by Donald Trump on Monday, always had at least one person in her corner – her grandmother.
“I’m really happy for her, and I’m really proud of her,” Lois Conner told PEOPLE from her home in Russell Springs, Ky, on Tuesday evening. “I think she made a nice statement, and Mr. Trump did too.”
The elder Conner says she spoke with her granddaughter on Tuesday morning before Trump had decided to let Tara keep get her crown, but gave her all her support no matter what the outcome. “I tried to encourage her, ” she said.
Lois Conner refused comment on her granddaughter’s going into rehab, but as for the allegations of unreliable and even disgraceful behavior that had surrounded Tara, she said, “I didn’t believe them. I heard a lot of things that I knew were not true. It’s just not her.”
Watching Tuesday’s dramatic press conference, Conner – like Trump – said she was impressed with her granddaughter’s good looks.
“I thought how beautiful she was,” she said. “And (I thought) she’s so tender-hearted. She’s so compassionate. She has a very compassionate heart.”
Tara also received support from others in the community back in her hometown of Russell Springs, where the stylists at Judy’s Hairport burst into tears and cheers when they watched Trump’s televised announcement on Tuesday, reports New York’s Daily News.
“We’re so proud, not just because she’s from our small town,” said Judy Roy, who owns the four-chair salon. “Everybody’s done something, and how many people get a second chance?”
Meanwhile, Tara’s ex-boyfriend, Mike Satsky, who owns the club Stereo, says, “She will do well in rehab,” reports the News. “She is a smart girl with a good head on her shoulders.”