By Oliver Jones
Updated July 21, 2008 12:00 PM

When Christina Applegate started dating Lee Grivas in 2005, she was in the middle of a difficult divorce from actor Johnathan Schaech. She found a remedy for her troubles in sweet and funny Grivas, who wowed the actress with his death-defying tales of deep sea fishing off the coast of Alaska. “We’re just very happy with each other,” Grivas told PEOPLE shortly after meeting Applegate through a dancer in her Broadway show Sweet Charity. “I like making her smile and she likes making me smile. It’s really innocent and fun.”

The couple dated on and off for more than a year before breaking it off for good several months ago. But though the romance was over, Applegate, 36, was shaken to the core on July 1 when Los Angeles police found Grivas in his Hollywood apartment, a syringe close by, the victim of an apparent drug overdose. “Lee was an incredible human being who was an extremely important and beautiful part of my life,” said the Samantha Who? star, who attended Sunday services with Grivas’s family at her Agape church July 5. “He is missed beyond words. He touched so many and I feel much sadness for his mother, brother and all of his family and friends.”

Grivas, a 26-year-old New York native who moved to L.A. last year, had a long history of drug abuse dating back to his teenage years, when he was thrown out of high school for marijuana possession and admitted using cocaine and inhalants. Thanks to a boarding school for at-risk teens, Grivas was able to temporarily turn his life around and won a scholarship to the Art Institute of Philadelphia.

While he made his money fishing in Alaska, Grivas’s first love was photography, and he hoped one day to make a living at it. His favorite subject? Christina Applegate. Or as he said in 2005, “I’m into capturing anything that strikes me as beautiful.”