Ava Sambora Praises Mom Heather Locklear for Helping Her Cope with Anxiety: 'She Is Selfless'

In companion essays appearing in this week's PEOPLE, the mother-daughter duo reflects on the role kindness has played in their deep bond

heather locklear and ava samboris

When Ava Sambora, the 23-year-old daughter of Heather Locklear and ex-husband Richie Sambora, struggled with anxiety, her mom was there for comfort, support and late-night calls. In this week's PEOPLE, Ava thanks her mom for helping her through.

My mom has shown me kindness in so many ways. I struggle with anxiety, but about a year ago it was very debilitating. I live almost an hour away from her, and when I would have anxiety attacks, she would drive over and visit me. Anytime of the day, she would stop what she was doing and come to comfort me. When I would insist she did not have to, she would stay on the phone with me late into the night, until I was calm enough to sleep. She did everything she could to help me get through those difficult months, from taking me to every doctor’s appointment to giving me tons of books on managing anxiety.

Dealing with anxiety can be tough when you feel like people don’t understand you. My mom always made me feel heard. She never judged me and made sure I didn’t feel alone. This was so important to my mental health and helped me continue on with my life. I was also a full-time college student when this happened, and my mom’s kindness made me feel comfortable enough to open up to others about my mental health. She helped me see that it was possible for others to relate to me and understand my experience.

My mom always taught me to be kind to whomever I met. She treats every person with respect and makes them feel important. While she embodies kindness in many ways, her ability to care for and give to others is what I admire most. She is selfless and inspires me to be selfless as well.

heather locklear and ava samboris
Heather Locklear with daughter Ava Sambora.

In turn, Ava's mom, Heather Locklear, thanks her for always finding the good in others. In this week's PEOPLE, the actress shares her love and admiration for her daughter — and celebrates how she makes kindness "contagious."

Ava was a typical teenager—she was a cheerleader, a great student, liked shopping and loved hanging out with her friends.

In an era of “mean girls,” Ava has always been a miracle to me. She never has a bad word to say about anyone, and for a teenage girl, that is something. She has this innate sense of confidence and strength. She doesn’t feel the need to put others down in order to feel better about herself. I’ve often seen her transform a potential gossip fest into a conversation about that person’s most amazing attributes.

I remember one day Ava had a group of girlfriends over to our house, and the conversation turned to the one girl who wasn’t there. It started with, "She thinks she’s better than us," and I thought, "Oh no, here we go." Then, effortlessly, Ava said, "You know, the other day I was feeling bummed for no particular reason, and it was like she knew it. She came up to me and gave me a hug." It changed the whole vibe and brought the focus back to the good.

Ava is an example to me to always try to find the good in someone. I have watched her from afar and up close throughout her life, and I aspire to be more like her. Her kindness is contagious. We are very close, and I am blessed to call her my daughter. She is completely unaware of all the good she brings to this world—it’s just who she is. I couldn’t be more proud of her.

PEOPLE’s second annual Kindness Issue is dedicated to highlighting the ways, big and small, that kindness can make a difference and change lives. Click here and pick up the issue, on stands Friday, Oct. 30, for more stories on the impact of kindness from Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Sterling K. Brown, Heather Locklear and other stars, as well as everyday people practicing kindness in their communities. To share the story of someone who’s done something exceptionally kind, email kindnessawards@peoplemag.com.

Updated by Heather Locklear
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