Richie Sambora Reveals Reason Behind Controversial Decision to Leave Bon Jovi

In 2103, Richie Sambora announced that he was leaving Bon Jovi, and now the iconic guitarist has opened up and revealed the reason behind his controversial decision. Speaking to PEOPLE, Sambora explained that he left the band to work on things in his personal life. The biggest thing that needed attention, he says, was his relationship with his daughter, Ava, now 23, whom he shares with ex-wife Heather Locklear.

"It wasn't a popular decision by any means, obviously, but there was really almost no choice about it," Sambora told the outlet. "I had a lot of conscious work to do around [my personal life]." He went on to add, "We've been through a lot of things together. That was a time of psychological maintenance for the family. You know, I ain't no angel. But I realized, Ava needed me to be around at that point in time. Family had to come first, and that's what happened."

Sambora elaborated a little more, sharing that rock 'n' roll life making his now-past substance addiction issues worse, which in turn led to him seeking rehab treatment on multiple occasions. "My lord, when I look back and start to list the tours ... 18-and-a-half months of being on the road, 52 countries," he said. "It's like, Wow. It was really time for a break. We did that 14 times over a 31-year period."

The guitarist revealed that during all the tours, he still found time to fly home and see Ava. "I love being a dad more than anything," he said. "Luckily I was making enough money to be able to have a private plane, get my ass home and see my kid even if it was only for one day. If it was Halloween, it was boom, home."

Chiming in, Ava said that her father's sacrifices never went unnoticed. "He showed up to every dance recital I performed in and all of my school functions no matter how far he had to travel," she told PEOPLE. "He even flew all the way from Australia to surprise me at my father-daughter dance."

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Now, the two of them are closer than ever and thrilled about it. "I'm lucky enough to have an amazing relationship with my daughter," Sambora said. "I brought a child into this world, and I do not take it lightly." He later added, "I'm very, very proud of her and the way she turned out. She's an amazing young woman with a bright future. She's just dedicated to being a good person. And she is."