After the former Today and Fox News host, 49, tweeted the sad news last week that Yates’ music teacher had died as a result of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), she spoke to PEOPLE about how former Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora stepped in to lift her son’s spirits.
“Yates and Richie have met and spent time together, so they know each other. They’ve danced together to Bon Jovi songs and it’s actually quite delightful,” Kelly says, adding of a recent FaceTime conversation she and husband Douglas Brunt had with Sambora, 60, “We talked about Yates, we talked about music and his music teacher and all that stuff. We must have talked for an hour. It was a great catch-up. And then he asked if he could speak to Yates and we arranged for the next day.”
The mother of three admits that what she thought would “be a 5-minute conversation just to make Yates feel better” from someone her son “admires” ended up lasting more than an hour: “Richie’s asking him all these questions and Yates is answering and they’re laughing together. Richie was not checking a box,” Kelly says.
And not only that, but Sambora’s phone call came with a generous (and musical) offer: “[Yates] says, ‘You know, Richie offered to send me a guitar.’ And I’m like, ‘Oh my God, that’s unbelievable. Richie Sambora is sending you a guitar?’ And he’s like, ‘Yes.’ And he goes, ‘And he asked if I would be available by FaceTime for some lessons and [said] we could write a song together about Mr. Sorel.’ ”
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“I thought Richie was going to come up with a little ditty; it was well beyond that,” she adds, sharing that Sambora also offered to send her son an amplifier.
Sambora — who previously met Kelly at the 2016 Kentucky Derby and later “fell in love with” the family, after they “ran into each other at the Four Seasons in Hawaii” — tells PEOPLE he asked for Yates to “talk to Papa Richie” after hearing what had happened with his teacher and encouraged the little boy to journal his emotions.
“I said, ‘Well, how are you feeling?’ Then he starts to write some stuff down,” Sambora says of the “very adult conversation” he had with Yates. “I said, ‘I know you’re sad about your teacher, so let’s write about that.’ Basically, it was like, ‘You just write your thoughts down and then you gather them into a pile and see … you start making up your feelings, and then you put a melody on it.’ ”
“I’m sad. I sent him a guitar. I think they’re going to get it tomorrow,” the musician (who’s dad to daughter Ava, 22) continues, promising to “be teaching” Yates “virtually however long he wants to do it.”
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Kelly is “a lifelong Bon Jovi fan” who “always loved Richie but never knew him,” which makes his relationship with their family (which also includes son Thatcher Bray, 6½, and daughter Yardley Evans, 9) extra meaningful.
“He spent a lot of time with my kids on a vacation where we just happened to be at the same place,” she tells PEOPLE. “And he’s coming over and dancing with them and playing songs, so our relationship with him and his relationship with my kids when it comes to music was pre-established.”
“But this is still above and beyond,” Kelly raves.
Adds Sambora of his admiration of Kelly and her family, “[I] kind of fell in love with them. I adore them. I adore their kids. She’s an amazing mom. Their family unit is tight.”
“When you really spend time, you can see all the sweetness and the love and also how they raised their children,” he continues. “We laugh a lot.”
Calling them a “storybook couple,” the musician says Kelly and Brunt’s focus is on raising their children together — and staying optimistic about her future. “They’re both wonderful people and they got three great kids,” says Sambora. “Obviously they’re prospering and everybody’s just waiting for Megyn to get something new.”
“The tenacity that she has, even as a journalist to get to the bottom of the truth and dig, dig, dig, dig. She’s just a great gal,” Sambora says of his respect for Kelly.
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