"This was a little hard on her," Sambora tells PEOPLE about his daughter being sent home to finish her last semester of college

By Charlotte Triggs
April 20, 2020 05:55 PM
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As schools remain closed amid coronavirus-related shutdowns, the class of 2020 is facing the reality that they’ll be finishing up their senior year remotely — and graduating without the usual fanfare.

Richie Sambora says his daughter Ava, a college senior, is in that same boat.

“She’s a little bit bummed because, you know, she was graduating in May, and now the pomp and circumstance of the whole graduation thing is off,” Sambora, 60, tells PEOPLE exclusively.

During Ava’s time at Loyola Marymount University, “she really kicked ass,” he says. “She made the dean’s list every year and all of that other stuff, so she was really looking forward to her graduation.”

Ava, 22, whose mom is Heather Locklear, is currently isolating with her dad, the rock legend and Bon Jovi guitarist, at his Southern California home.

“We’re healthy and happy. She’s upstairs. She’s doing homework,” he says. “But this was a little hard on her. They just packed her ass up [and sent everybody home], you know?”

As the family prepares to celebrate Ava’s milestone virtually — “I’m sure they’ll do a real graduation at a later date,” Sambora says — her dad is reflecting on their many blessings.

“I’ve had an amazing life. A lot of people have died in rock and roll. You know what I mean?” Sambora says. But the hard-partying rock and roll lifestyle “was just not my thing,” he says. “Work was my thing and playing music is the main thing. And I think you have to pass it on in this life, man. You got to pass the wisdom on and give back.”

With that in mind, Sambora was quick to reach out to his friend Megyn Kelly last week after learning that her son’s beloved music teacher, Don Sorel, had died after battling COVID-19.

“Honestly, I’d do it for any kid, but the fact that it’s my dear friends and their child, I said, ‘Put him on the phone with Papa Richie,'” Sambora says of reaching out to console Yates, 10, and offer to help him write a song to channel his feelings.

“He improved his mood, he improved his outlook,” Kelly says of the kind gesture. “What Richie did for my son was above and beyond.”

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