After enduring a tragic death, the RHOC star found renewed joy in her family and career.

on Apr 30 - The Dish

What happens to our Real Housewives once they've left a franchise? Each week, we're looking into the lives of past cast members after their exits. This week, former The Real Housewives of Orange County star Tammy Knickerbocker.

Life wasn't exactly a bed of roses for Tammy Knickerbocker when she appeared on Seasons 2 and 3 of the Real Housewives of Orange County from January 2007 to January 2008. Fans of the show's early seasons may remember that she was a down-to-earth single mom of three in her mid-40s—and that tragedy struck soon after.

Just a month after the Season 2 finale in 2007, Tammy's ex-husband Lou—the father of her daughters Megan and Lindsey, whom she divorced—passed away from a heart attack. She was also raising a young son Ryley—who's now in middle school—from her relationship with Duff Evans, who worked for Housewife Vicki Gunvalson.

Not long after her ex-husband's death, Tammy took a step back and left RHOC. She wanted to focus on her kids and on her company Veriya.com, which had been publishing a web magazine and offering product placement in movies and TV shows, as well as providing marketing services. Despite her departure, Tammy still had links to many of the Housewives—she even handled online marketing for Vicki's company, Coto Insurance.

Tammy, who continued to offer mortgage and real-estate services on the side after her exit, also launched a charity called Housewives4Housewives, which was meant to help women and mothers develop business skills.

In 2010, she appeared in a commercial for Final Inches, a "Mommy Makeover" laser "liposculpture" procedure she credits with helping her slim down after three kids.

Despite all the setbacks she's endured, Tammy hasn't regretted her time as a Bravolebrity, describing her time on RHOC as "such a good experience."

Tammy has kept a low profile in recent years (she hasn't Tweeted since last summer!), but she recently revealed that she's enjoying life living on Balboa Island in Newport Beach, Calif., where she and Ryley's baby daddy are still close.

"Duff Evans and I live down the street from each other," she told YahooTV in April. Added Duff: "We always surprise people when they realize we're not a couple still. I always kid with them and say the secret to our relationship is we date other people."

Tammy has also remained friends with other former RHOC stars including Jeana Keough, who was responsible for convincing Tammy to sign up for RHOC in the first place seven years ago. Tammy was even there to watch Jeana's daughter Kara exchange vows with professional football player Kyle Bosworth in February. "Tammy and I are friends for life," Jeana tweeted last year. "We are family."

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