The reality TV star tells PEOPLE how David LaQua romanced her while she recovered from two spinal surgeries
The reality TV star, 46, was diagnosed with osteomyelitis in early June, a potentially rare and life-threatening bone infection that was attacking her lower vertebrae. After being put on IV antibiotics and undergoing two surgeries on her lower spine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Smith spent 31 days recovering in the hospital.
“I had tubes coming out of me — oxygen and an IV, one in my arm, one in my hand, and a catheter,” she tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue.
While longtime friends and Selling Sunset costars, including Mary Bonnet and Jason and Brett Oppenheim visited, a newer friend came to visit as well. A short time before she fell ill, Smith was introduced to David LaQua, an international land developer.
When LaQua, 44, learned Smith was hospitalized, he showed up with a card and a bouquet of flowers. “He saw me at my worst,” she says. “It wasn't about me looking hot, having fancy dinner dates or prancing around at lavish events.” They shared their first kiss in her hospital bed while watching a movie.
A few days later, after Smith's first surgery, LaQua, who came to see her everyday she was in the hospital, suggested a “sexy vending machine date.”
“Sometimes a vending machine cinnamon roll sounds better than anything they can offer you, but they won’t get it for you,” she explains.
LaQua showed up in a sports coat; Smith wore a Skims dress with her house slippers. He helped support her as they walked hand-in-hand down the hall where they bought “a bunch of junk food” and went back to her room to watch movies.
"He showed up like Superman,” she adds. “That’s what it feels like to have someone take care of you. I don’t think I’ve had that ever, not even in my marriage.”
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Smith was previously married to former NFL player Ralph Brown, who went missing in 2019 and hasn’t been heard from since. But having LaQua by her side years later, felt right.
“I had just been on my high horse about not needing a man," Smith says. “But sometimes you don't realize you need something until you get it. Then you’re like, holy sh--, this feels really good.”
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